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Punching down the cap..

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BernardSmith

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Clearly it is vital to punch down the cap that forms several times a day but what do you do if you need to be away for three or four days and there is no one else who can take over that task? Does it make any sense to strain the fruit and then store it in a fridge (or freezer) and then to replace the fruit upon your return or is there another solution?
 

VinesnBines

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I've taken fermenters with me (in a car or truck) - clearly not possible on plane or airplane. Last week I had to put my dandelion wine in a plastic jug while on a trip - after it finished before I expected. Also not an option if you are making large amounts.

Also with your plan, you could add the fruit back as an f-pack in secondary. (Warmed to room temp). I might suggest freezing to kill all the yeast then warming to add back.

What are you making and how far along are you?
 

Johnd

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Clearly it is vital to punch down the cap that forms several times a day but what do you do if you need to be away for three or four days and there is no one else who can take over that task? Does it make any sense to strain the fruit and then store it in a fridge (or freezer) and then to replace the fruit upon your return or is there another solution?
I actually had this happen twice. The first time, I just let it ride and regretted it, there was mold growing on top of the cap. Removed the top 1" of skins and discarded them and everything came out just fine, but it was pretty nasty looking.

Second time I had to be away, I cut the lid of one of my Brutes to fit down inside of the fermenter just below the level of the liquid, pushed it down into the fermenter and held it in place with two stainless rods that were at a 90 degree angle to each other, and were cut to wedge tightly against the sides of the fermenter. It held the cap down, liquid still made its way around the edges, it certainly wasn't a watertight fit. Put a lid on top of the fermenter and left it that way for 3 days, no issues.
 

BernardSmith

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What are you making and how far along are you?
Taking the fermenter with me is not a good option... This is for a second batch of wine I am making with the skins and fruit after pressing and racking. This wine will have been on the fruit for a week before I need to leave for three days.
 

Johnd

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Taking the fermenter with me is not a good option... This is for a second batch of wine I am making with the skins and fruit after pressing and racking. This wine will have been on the fruit for a week before I need to leave for three days.
Just devise a way to hold the cap down while you're gone, it should be fine.
 

ttaje16

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Could also try to put the skins in a mesh bag with some type of weight to bring it down.
 

VinesnBines

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Try Johnd's method and weight it down with some clean bricks in gallon ziplock bags.
 

cmason1957

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Taking the fermenter with me is not a good option... This is for a second batch of wine I am making with the skins and fruit after pressing and racking. This wine will have been on the fruit for a week before I need to leave for three days.
The been on the fruit for a week Adds a new dimension to things. I think I would press off the fruit and solve the problem that way.
 

stickman

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There is a very good podcast about Ridge Monte Bello linked below. It covers a fair amount of detail about the vineyards and winemaking process that is specific to their grapes.


For those that don't have the time to listen, here are a few interesting takeaways.

For the Monte Bello Cab, they talk about the brix at harvest being around 22.5 to 25 depending on the block and vine age, and very high must acidity typically in the range of 9g/L and 3.1 pH. During bulk aging with this low pH, they use only .3 ppm molecular SO2 which comes out to around 6 ppm free. The grapes are tannic given the cool climate, so the primary fermentation is in the range of 6 days or so using pump overs; they talk about an extended maceration experiment that went for 40 days yielding a highly tannic undrinkable wine.

Malolactic starts in tank and then pumped to barrels for completion.

Barrels are 100% new at 97% American and 3% French. Their racking schedule is similar to old school Bordeaux typically at 3 month intervals, cleaning the barrels and using steam and ozone before refilling.

Wine lots are held separately for about 5 months, then tasted and blended accordingly and continue aging for a total of 18 months. Wine is only pad filtered (not sterile) and and bottled at the same .3 ppm molecular SO2. The estate Cab is reportedly drinkable young, but very long lived 50+ years.

I would like to taste some of this stuff.
 

Booty Juice

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Stickman thank you.

The Ridge Wine website provides very interesting information for each varietal in the "Winemaking" drop down box. I like their "minimal intervention philosophy ".
 

Ajmassa

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There is a very good podcast about Ridge Monte Bello linked below. It covers a fair amount of detail about the vineyards and winemaking process that is specific to their grapes.


For those that don't have the time to listen, here are a few interesting takeaways.

For the Monte Bello Cab, they talk about the brix at harvest being around 22.5 to 25 depending on the block and vine age, and very high must acidity typically in the range of 9g/L and 3.1 pH. During bulk aging with this low pH, they use only .3 ppm molecular SO2 which comes out to around 6 ppm free. The grapes are tannic given the cool climate, so the primary fermentation is in the range of 6 days or so using pump overs; they talk about an extended maceration experiment that went for 40 days yielding a highly tannic undrinkable wine.

Malolactic starts in tank and then pumped to barrels for completion.

Barrels are 100% new at 97% American and 3% French. Their racking schedule is similar to old school Bordeaux typically at 3 month intervals, cleaning the barrels and using steam and ozone before refilling.

Wine lots are held separately for about 5 months, then tasted and blended accordingly and continue aging for a total of 18 months. Wine is only pad filtered (not sterile) and and bottled at the same .3 ppm molecular SO2. The estate Cab is reportedly drinkable young, but very long lived 50+ years.

I would like to taste some of this stuff.
Loved that podcast! Very forthcoming. From canopy management & irrigation all the way to the tasting room. Thanks for sharing that. Interviewer was on point too- asking all the right questions.
Surprised to see how strict they are with different things. Might be the first time I’ve heard of 3month barrel aging racking. (For 18-24 mos?!) I know that’s the safe “standard” they say, but I mean, how many of us actually do that? (and w/ barrels?!). If it’s clean wine I didn’t see a point. They already get micro-ox from the barrels. (Plus topping up every 2 weeks!) so I guess the racking just keeps those new barrels clean as a whistle and giving wine a strong o2 tolerance despite almost no so2.
Also they never press at dryness- and even then it’s still 10 yrs for the wine to start shining. But I’m always pressing dry!
Generations of winemaking really allowed them to perfect the process.
I dunno. It just feels like if I ever got a chance to make super high quality stuff I’d be very very conservative in everything scared to mess it up. Top quality fruit is a whole different ballgame. I’d like to taste some vintages he dismisses as bad years. Or bad lots that didn’t make it into the $250 blend. I’d be willing to bet even the lower quality stuff is still very good. He said at tastings he will pour out a ‘74, ‘84, & ‘94 so they can get a sense of the aging. Love that. When I eventually get out there Monte Bello will have to be a stop.
 

stickman

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I believe the 3 month racking schedule is based on old Bordeaux, the grapes are cool climate and high in tannin, they are not picked at 28 brix, so the tannin is highly reactive to oxygen, and the wine needs the oxygen to link up the color and tannin and to soften and develop. Not all red wine would need that amount of oxygen, in more recent times it seems like many are using 6 month racking intervals, or "as needed".
 

BernardSmith

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Today , the SG reads 1.026 but your point is a fair one, and I expect the gravity to fall well below 1.020 by Wednesday and so Wed or Thursday I might call it macaroni and press. Thanks for that suggestion.
 

BernardSmith

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Hi winemaker81,
I called it macaroni on Tuesday night and was able to obtain a hair over 3 gallons from the second runnings (I added 2 gallons of water after I pressed the first time. The color is good (not sure if it's called dark copper or burgundy - Although in the two bottles I have in addition to the 3 gallons it is clearer and several shades darker and the taste (for a very green wine) is really good. Decided not to press a second time but simply filled a paint straining bag with the grapes and liquid and allowed the weight of the grapes to do the pressing and so allowed the wine to drain.
Solved my problem by racking off the skins a couple of days earlier than I had originally planned. Bottom line: I have been able to extract a good 6 gallons from the 72 lbs of grapes (2 separate batches that I may not blend, but we shall see) and that is after the removal of gross lees from the first 3 gallons - the second runnings have insignificant gross lees at this time as I never pressed the grapes a second time.
 
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