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?'s before I make my batches this year

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DeerValley

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I made about 15 gallons of wine last year using grapes in the vineyard we purchased. I actually bought the house and the vineyard came with it.

The wine turned out good since my wife and mom enjoyed it. I used an old recipe from wine arts book.

I would like to do a bigger batch this year and try to make it better. Last year I didn't test the acid or PH. I have a few ?'s to help get me started.

1. What PH testers come highly recommended. There are so many to choose from

2. Same with acid tester

3. Last year I used like 10 gallon trash cans. This year I want to use 55 gallon drums. The drums had vanilla in them.

I was going do my primary fermentation in them and install a spigot to rack them in carboys for the secondary fermentation.

4. Reading about the MLF I hadn't heard about that before. I have been reading on here and believe the MLF treatment should start once the wine is put into carboys correct?

5. Approximately how many pounds of grapes would you recommend using for the Drums?
6. I am also going to try making some apple cider. Any tips with the drums and cider is also appreciated.

This would be a good start for any feedback. Thank you

The grapes are Marquette and St Croix
 

Scooter68

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You can use the same tester for pH and "Acid" testing. You just use Sodium Hydroxide and the pH tester reading. (Check out instructions for doing TA testing with a meter)
As to brands - If you want to spend some serious money you can get multi-purpose meters but I think you can get a decent pH meter for under $100.00. Keep in mind the ALL have to be re-calibrated regularly to get accurate readings. (Even the $1,000.00 plus equipment)
If you shop Amazon - read the reviews, take some comments with a grain of salt and don't forget your re-calibration buffer solutions.

With those drums - If you can smell vanilla in them, I would guess that your wines will have the same smell and taste as well.
 

Stressbaby

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1. I use and like the MW102

4. Some controversy exists as to whether to do it sequentially or to co-inoculate. There are arguments both ways on this. I've only done it sequentially. Google it and if you still aren't satisfied, post back and we can get you some links.

5. Not sure about crushed/destemmed volumes, but when I picked last week I got volume of about 4#/gallon. Run those through a crusher/destemmer and you could fit a lot more than that. I will be interested in what more experienced folks say about this one.
 

DeerValley

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You can use the same tester for pH and "Acid" testing. You just use Sodium Hydroxide and the pH tester reading. (Check out instructions for doing TA testing with a meter)
As to brands - If you want to spend some serious money you can get multi-purpose meters but I think you can get a decent pH meter for under $100.00. Keep in mind the ALL have to be re-calibrated regularly to get accurate readings. (Even the $1,000.00 plus equipment)
If you shop Amazon - read the reviews, take some comments with a grain of salt and don't forget your re-calibration buffer solutions.

With those drums - If you can smell vanilla in them, I would guess that your wines will have the same smell and taste as well.
Thanks and thanks to Stressbaby also

I guess is there any reason not to just buy the 15-30 dollar PH tester than if you have to recalibrate regularly anyways?
 

Scooter68

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The one I bought WAS Just under $20.00 Now they want $39.xx for it. (Talking about Amazon offerings)

My take is to look at the number of reviews and not just the average rating but look at how many give it a 1 or 2 See why. Consistently same problem is probably reason to avoid it. Less than a dozen reviews and I'd probably not take the risk.

Short answer - No particular reason not to go with a less expensive one.

Here's the one I bought and this offer is a little weird - Who needs 2 of these but the price is good: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IOL5A60/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20
 
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DeerValley

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The one I bought WAS Just under $20.00 Now they want $39.xx for it. (Talking about Amazon offerings)

My take is to look at the number of reviews and not just the average rating but look at how many give it a 1 or 2 See why. Consistently same problem is probably reason to avoid it. Less than a dozen reviews and I'd probably not take the risk.

Short answer - No particular reason not to go with a less expensive one.

Here's the one I bought and this offer is a little weird - Who needs 2 of these but the price is good: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IOL5A60/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20
That was my thoughts.

As for the vanilla, i figured it wouldn't be hard to soak it in oxyclean for a day and than disinfect with campden tablets.

Last year I pressed the grapes and strained the juice so I had very few skins in the must. It seems like many on here advocate doing the primary fermentation with the skins in the must. Possibly putting the skins in a mesh bag and letting it work with the wine. Thoughts
 
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Stressbaby

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Last year I pressed the grapes and strained the juice so I had very few skins in the must. It seems like many on here advocate doing the primary fermentation with the skins in the must. Possibly putting the skins in a mesh bag and letting it work with the wine. Thoughts
Red wine grapes, right? I think it's pretty standard practice - destem and crush, ferment, then press. No need for a bag, just put it all together and ferment it.

You might also look into cold soak/cold maceration and extended maceration.
 

DeerValley

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Red wine grapes, right? I think it's pretty standard practice - destem and crush, ferment, then press. No need for a bag, just put it all together and ferment it.

You might also look into cold soak/cold maceration and extended maceration.
Yes Marquette and St. Croix.
 

balatonwine

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Yes Marquette and St. Croix.
Except for teinturier grapes, the color of a red wine comes from the grape skins. The time you let the skins soak will determine the type of wine you are making. Shortest soak times results in making a Rosé. To make a full bodied red wine, you will have to leave the skins in the must for awhile. If you put the skins in a bag you are decreasing skin contact with the must. Not recommended.
 

DeerValley

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Except for teinturier grapes, the color of a red wine comes from the grape skins. The time you let the skins soak will determine the type of wine you are making. Shortest soak times results in making a Rosé. To make a full bodied red wine, you will have to leave the skins in the must for awhile. If you put the skins in a bag you are decreasing skin contact with the must. Not recommended.
Thanks for the information! I don't even drink. I am making it for my wife and people who help us pick. Last year I let the wine ferment for 6 days on the Marquette. It was around .990 SG. So you are saying I could have left it in there for another week or so and it wouldn't have gone any lower SG and wouldn't have caused issues? But it would have become darker and more full bodied red wine?

After 6 days I strained the Marquette and St Croix into carboys. I let them sit for 3 months and then added Sparkaloid. I waited 10 days and added absorbic acid and potassium sulfate.

I then bottled a couple of gallons worth and left the rest in the Carboys. The wine was crystal clear and me wife liked it.

I still have 4 gallons of marquette in the Carboy since last September. The rest is in mason jars or bottled. What changes would you guys consider making to this process?

I did not back sweeten any. I may try sweetening some for those that like the sweeter variety.
 

balatonwine

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5. Approximately how many pounds of grapes would you recommend using for the Drums?
when I picked last week I got volume of about 4#/gallon.
I use metric. My harvests are typically 0.5 kg uncrushed grapes on the stem per liter. Which, when converted (0.5 kg/l x 3.8 l/gal x 1 lbs/0.454 kg), is about 4 lbs / gal. :b

Destemmed weight one can consider unchanged (stems do not really weight that much unless one is dealing with several tons).

1 gal water = 8.34 lbs. Grape must is not water, but "close enough" to roughly estimate needed grape weights.

First take off, say, 10 gal for head space to ferment, leaving 45 gal to fill with crushed grape must (with skins). So need:

45 gal x 8.34 lbs/gal = 375 lbs of grapes.

If immediately pressing off the skins, assume an immediate 25% loss of volume (and, ergo, weight), so would need 25% more grapes.

Of course, this is all much easier using base 10 metric. My crushed and destemmed volumes are about ~2/3 of the uncrushed volume. So I can work directly with volumes only. For example:

150 l of uncrushed grapes will give 100 l of crushed grape must. If I have 100 l of must (with skins), pressing out my whites immediately, I know that will fill about 75 l in the primary. Pretty simple.
 
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balatonwine

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Last year I let the wine ferment for 6 days on the Marquette. It was around .990 SG. So you are saying I could have left it in there for another week or so and it wouldn't have gone any lower SG and wouldn't have caused issues? But it would have become darker and more full bodied red wine?
Ah. Was under the impression, maybe I misread, that there was no soaking at all of the skins during the primary. 6 days is usually enough. You can do extended maceration (leave skins in longer to get more extractions from the skin). But that gets complicated.
 

DeerValley

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Ah. Was under the impression, maybe I misread, that there was no soaking at all of the skins during the primary. 6 days is usually enough. You can do extended maceration (leave skins in longer to get more extractions from the skin). But that gets complicated.
I had very few skins in it last year. I boiled the grapes and used a strainer to extract the juice. So only a handful of skins and some seeds mixed in. This year I will do the skins with the grapes.

My question is once I am down to the .990 range do I need to get them in the carboy or can I leave it there for a few more days?
 

DeerValley

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I use metric. My harvests are typically 0.5 kg uncrushed grapes on the stem per liter. Which, when converted (0.5 kg/l x 3.8 l/gal x 1 lbs/0.454 kg), is about 4 lbs / gal. :b

Destemmed weight one can consider unchanged (stems do not really weight that much unless one is dealing with several tons).

1 gal water = 8.34 lbs. Grape must is not water, but "close enough" to roughly estimate needed grape weights.

First take off, say, 10 gal for head space to ferment, leaving 45 gal to fill with crushed grape must (with skins). So need:

45 gal x 8.34 lbs/gal = 375 lbs of grapes.

If immediately pressing off the skins, assume an immediate 25% loss of volume (and, ergo, weight), so would need 25% more grapes.

Of course, this is all much easier using base 10 metric. My crushed and destemmed volumes are about ~2/3 of the uncrushed volume. So I can work directly with volumes only. For example:

150 l of uncrushed grapes will give 100 l of crushed grape must. If I have 100 l of must (with skins), pressing out my whites immediately, I know that will fill about 75 l in the primary. Pretty simple.
Thanks. I was thinking 160 pounds of grapes would be good for 40 gallons or so. That would leave 10 gallon of space.

Would you guys recommend using my "new" home made juice presser first and then putting them in the barrel and adding the skins. Or just put the whole grapes in the barrel for a few days and than press them all and finish the fermentation in another barrel?

I was planning on running the 160 pounds through the press and strainer cloth, putting in the barrel and adding the skins to the barrel. Let work for a day with the enzymes and add the sugar and water to get the SG to the correct amount. Then add yeast the second day.

Part 2, I didn't check the PH last year. I will check it this year
 

balatonwine

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I boiled the grapes and used a strainer to extract the juice.
Ah. Now I understand. You are not crushing the grapes, and letting them macerate, you are using a country fruit like method to make wine from grape juice you get from boiling the berries down.

Since you are reducing much of the pulp and skins into the grape juice by boiling, and changing the entire chemical composition of the grape juice (to be must) by doing this, you do not soak any skins at all, there is no point in doing so.
 
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DeerValley

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Ah. Now I understand. You are not crushing the grapes, and letting them macerate, you are using a country fruit like method to make wine from grape juice you get from boiling the berries down.

Since you are reducing much of the pulp and skins into the grape juice by boiling, and changing the entire chemical composition of the grape juice (to be must) by doing this, you do not soak any skins at all, there is no point in doing so.
That is what I was wondering. So I should press the grapes and throw all the skins back in with the juice for the fermentation?
 

DeerValley

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Running into an issue. Been busy as hell and the acid test kit didn't come in time.

So 8 days ago i started fermenting 160 pounds of Marquette. It was at 24 Brix.

Long story short is it doesn't seem to be going doing any more and is around 1.005 right now. I had my wife taste it and she said it was really bitter. Any suggestions?
 

DeerValley

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My second soon to be likely problem is 170 pounds of St Croix I started fermenting on Sunday. It was at 1.040 two days ago. It's issue was I couldn't get the Brix up past 21 or so. It has a lot more fizzing and activity than my Marquette. I wasn't able to test its PH or acid either.

Any suggestions on if I should still test the PH/Acid level or just let it run to .990?

Also, the other problem was after smashing the grapes we added the campden to kill the wild yeast. The next day morning I added pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient. I couldn't add the yeast that night as I ended up going out of town. Couldn't add the yeast and sugar until 48 hours after I had put in the pectic enzyme.

Could this be why the Brix was hard to bring up? The starting BRix should have been at least 21 before I even added sugar. It had dropped since I crushed the grapes making me think the wild yeast wasn't killed and it started fermenting?

I am thinking I should have just done the easy recipe I did last year since my wife loved it. I am afraid we are going to end up with 2 barrels of bitter junk or vinegar.
 
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