Scaling up

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

Cosyden

Supporting Members
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
Messages
72
Reaction score
130
I started making wine just a couple of months ago but I’m already looking to scale up.
At the mo I have 20+ 4.5/5 ltr demijohns, 2x ltr buckets, a 10 ltr bucket and a 23 ltr plastic fermenter.
The question is, what’s the pros and cons of scaling up to 5 gallon carboys?
 

vinny

Mildly Amused
Joined
Jan 19, 2022
Messages
609
Reaction score
1,349
Location
Central Alberta
Pro- more wine.

Con- takes patience.... time. So much time! Waiting, wanting, anticipating, yearning, also cons. So you make more 'cause you are tired of waiting, but still you wait. So you make more.. Then space! You need more space as you wait and make more wine in the hopes of one day drinking wine.

Top con- Waiting.

Other than that, I can't think of any negatives! 🙂
 

vinny

Mildly Amused
Joined
Jan 19, 2022
Messages
609
Reaction score
1,349
Location
Central Alberta
What are you planning to make?

One benefit of a 6 gallon carboy would be that it will fit a kit if you are planning to go that route.

Have a look around for used equipment, I got a complete set up with 4-5 carboys, bottles and everything you would need for $100. I filled those up and got a second bigger set up, again for $100.

It makes the decision to scale up easier.
 
Last edited:

Ohio Bob

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2022
Messages
267
Reaction score
350
Location
Cleveland, Ohio area
If you do juice buckets, you’ll need the 7.9g or larger fermenter buckets, and at least two 5g carboys, one for the wine and one to rack to. I would think it’s really impractical to do juice buckets with anything less than a 5g carboy.

Also a lot of kits are sized expecting 5g or so of wine.

Not to mention, you will invariably be impatient to start tasting and will blow through a gallon pretty fast. 5g makes your wine inventory last a little longer.
 

BigDaveK

Supporting Members
Joined
Jan 14, 2022
Messages
870
Reaction score
1,525
Location
Hocking Hills, OH
Looking to scale up??!! What took so long?

Lot's of pro's. Other's can take care of that.

Biggest con? For me - weight. I don't have a dedicated area (boo hoo) and sometimes need to move things around. On a good day it's "Sweet Baby Jesus!" On a bad day, much more descriptive and earthy. I've been upgrading to 3 gallon carboys.
 

Cosyden

Supporting Members
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
Messages
72
Reaction score
130
What are you planning to make?

One benefit of a 6 gallon carboy would be that it will fit a kit if you are planning to go that route.

Have a look around for used equipment, I got a complete set up with 4-5 carboys, bottles and everything you would need for $100. I filled those up and got a second bigger set up, again for $100.

It makes the decision to scale up easier.
Just planning on making 4 or 5 5g batches a year of whatever fruit we have at the time. We grow a lot of soft fruit and rhubarb.

I hadn’t intended to do any kits but I suppose it would be good to have the equipment to match a kit if the time ever comes.

I don’t think the bigger carboys are common over here. There’s always loads of 1g demijohns for sale s/h but I haven’t seen any bigger modern carboys for sale within 2 or 300 miles. A few very old round glass carboys pop up but they’d be away awkward to use. Will keep an eye on.

If you do juice buckets, you’ll need the 7.9g or larger fermenter buckets, and at least two 5g carboys, one for the wine and one to rack to. I would think it’s really impractical to do juice buckets with anything less than a 5g carboy.

Also a lot of kits are sized expecting 5g or so of wine.

Not to mention, you will invariably be impatient to start tasting and will blow through a gallon pretty fast. 5g makes your wine inventory last a little longer.
I had to Google juice buckets. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that over here. All the kits seem to be made up with juice concentrate.

I had to do the mental maths on the 7.9g bucket. If that is USg then I’ve got one. 30ltrs.

There’s a cracking quote in CJJ Berry’s book where he says that moving up from 1g to 5g vessels make your wine last nearly twice as long!

Looking to scale up??!! What took so long?

Lot's of pro's. Other's can take care of that.

Biggest con? For me - weight. I don't have a dedicated area (boo hoo) and sometimes need to move things around. On a good day it's "Sweet Baby Jesus!" On a bad day, much more descriptive and earthy. I've been upgrading to 3 gallon carboys.

3g carboys might be the sweet spot. I’ll have a look at what I can get my hands on.

Thanks all.
 

VinesnBines

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
967
Reaction score
1,164
Looking to scale up??!! What took so long?

Lot's of pro's. Other's can take care of that.

Biggest con? For me - weight. I don't have a dedicated area (boo hoo) and sometimes need to move things around. On a good day it's "Sweet Baby Jesus!" On a bad day, much more descriptive and earthy. I've been upgrading to 3 gallon carboys.
Get some trollies - dollies or build some with wheels to let the bigger carboys rest on wheels.

don’t think the bigger carboys are common over here. There’s always loads of 1g demijohns for sale s/h but I haven’t seen any bigger modern carboys for sale within 2 or 300 miles. A few very old round glass carboys pop up but they’d be away awkward to use. Will keep an eye on.
Do any of the home brewers use kegs or can you score some commercial kegs? They work nicely as storage in lieu of carboys or demijohns. They have hand grips that make movement much easier.
 

ChuckD

Supporting Members
Joined
Nov 30, 2021
Messages
749
Reaction score
1,351
Location
NE Wisconsin
I’m a big fan of the three gallon carboys. One gallon batches seem more trouble than they are worth and the fives are heavy. When I get a dedicated “wine room” I’ll make some dollies for the larger carboys and get a vacuum pump to eliminate the heavy lifting. With 56 vines in the ground I foresee scaling up to barrels and large (14 to 16 gallon) demijohns or stainless tanks.
 

vinny

Mildly Amused
Joined
Jan 19, 2022
Messages
609
Reaction score
1,349
Location
Central Alberta
I also like the 3 gallon carboys. They are way easier to move around and store, full or empty. They just fit into smaller spaces easier.

Does it really matter if you make a 5-6 gallon batch and put it in a 5-6 gallon carboy, 2 3 gallon or 5-6 singles? There's more washing, and racking would be a bit more involved, but if you already have the equipment you could still make larger batches. One benefit there is you could bottle 1 gallon at a time leaving the rest to bulk age.

Just a thought.
 

Cosyden

Supporting Members
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
Messages
72
Reaction score
130
Do any of the home brewers use kegs or can you score some commercial kegs? They work nicely as storage in lieu of carboys or demijohns. They have hand grips that make movement much easier.
I don’t know to be honest. I’ll have a look. I do have a 23ltr plastic wide mouth fermenter with handles. That’s dead handy but only really good as a primary. I’m planning to start a batch of oak leaf in that.
I also like the 3 gallon carboys. They are way easier to move around and store, full or empty. They just fit into smaller spaces easier.

Does it really matter if you make a 5-6 gallon batch and put it in a 5-6 gallon carboy, 2 3 gallon or 5-6 singles? There's more washing, and racking would be a bit more involved, but if you already have the equipment you could still make larger batches. One benefit there is you could bottle 1 gallon at a time leaving the rest to bulk age.

Just a thought.
That’s pretty much where I am at the mo. I’m making 15 to 25 ltr batches in a bucket and decanting into 1g (4.5ltr) demijohns. Long term I’d like to do the first couple of racks into bigger carboys and do the final rack into the 1g’s. That way, like you say, I’ll only need to bottle 1 gallon at a time.

The more I think about it, I think I’m keen on 3G carboys. They’ll give me the most flexibility and ease of storage.

I appreciate all you comments. Forming a bit of a plan now! Cheers.
 

Ohio Bob

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2022
Messages
267
Reaction score
350
Location
Cleveland, Ohio area
For me, it’s a lot of time to prep for bottling, and cleanup. I consider those fixed costs. Whether I bottle a gallon, or 5, it’s still the same time and effort. So in the end I would not be saving any time, more than likely increasing the time required.
 

Jovimaple

Kaptin Winemaker
Joined
Feb 11, 2021
Messages
499
Reaction score
1,002
Location
Minnesnowta
I agree with the 3 gallon carboys being a sweet spot. You can easily split a 6 gallon kit between 2 of them. A 5 gallon kit can use one 3 gallon and two 1 gallon carboys. I can lift a full 3 gallon but hubby has to help if I'm moving a full 5 gallon. I don't have any 6 gallon carboys for that reason.

Edited to clarify that I mean US gallons.
 
Last edited:

Nebbiolo020

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2019
Messages
166
Reaction score
152
I personally make 200 gallons of wine each year. I have a bunch of like 40 gallon primary fermenters and 3 75 gallon stainless steel variable wine tanks that I age wine In and conduct malolactic fermentation in and I also have enough 5-6 gallon glass carboys for all of the 200 gallons so I can move wine prior to bottling.

I work for a commercial winery and make wine for friends and family at home outside of that.
 

Rice_Guy

Supporting Members
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
2,749
Reaction score
3,526
Location
Food Industry - - Retired
I am putting in a vote for having the largest big mouth bubbler you can find.
A 120 mm PET bottle is an excellent addition since it is flexible/ you can rack into it for storage. I don’t like the gasket that comes with it and have improvised silicone and bungi cord.
View attachment 69057
when I first got this seven gallon at a vinters club Christmas party it was used for mixing, I would not break and was easy to swirl/ light, it likewise was a good racking target.
It next evolved into a primary fermenter with the cover that I couldn’t screw tight enough to push gas through the air lock. I still don’t like the cap even after replacing the gasket.
When I found stretchy silicone covers it evolved into a secondary to age wines in. To do this I am putting a glass saucer on top of the silicone cover since there is some oxygen transmission with silicone.

At this point I have several PET 120 mm lid bottles off the web since quite a few sizes as 96 oz, two gallon and ten liter are available. The silicone cover works on 120mm lids.

The big negative is PET isn’t good in vacuum systems. I have managed 5”Hg for starting a siphon but degassing is useless.
 

Jusatele

Member
Joined
May 1, 2022
Messages
35
Reaction score
41
I am a 3 gallon guy
I find that the benefits of the lesser weight from the 5 gallon size is where I win out
I do use a 5 gallon fermenter so I can start out with just over 3 gallons and first rack I am topped out into 3 gallon carboys

now the are so many benefits for scaling up. the larger the more benefits. It is just how big you can handle and store that limits you.
 

Cosyden

Supporting Members
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
Messages
72
Reaction score
130
Thanks again for all your comments. I’m pretty settled 3g (11ltr) carboys and have ordered 4 today. I think they will do me for a while.
Having racked a couple of my wines I’ve currently got 6 (3 clear and 3 brown) 1g demijohns empty so, with the 4 new carboys on the way, I’m itching to get another brew or 2 started.
I’ve got a lot of red(ish) fruit wines on the go at the mo so planning on an apple, a banana and still keen on an oak leaf.
We’re away for a week or so for a holiday from next Friday so they’ll have to wait till I get back.
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
5,195
Reaction score
13,256
Location
Raleigh, NC, USA
The question is, what’s the pros and cons of scaling up to 5 gallon carboys?
It comes down to what you want, how much wine you drink, how long you age it, and your physical capabilities. It all depends on you.

For me, batches smaller than 5 gallons don't last long enough to normally be worth my time. Port wine kits are the exception, as I bottle in 375 ml bottles and they last for years. For whites and quicker drinking reds, 5 to 6 gallons is good. For long aging reds, anything under 10 gallons is too little.

Physical capabilities is critical. I'm a notch from 60 and can still lift a 6 US gallon carboy confidently. But the handwriting is on the wall, this will end. Pumping wine will become a requirement, not an option.
 

Cosyden

Supporting Members
Joined
Apr 18, 2022
Messages
72
Reaction score
130
@winemaker81 I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

Just now I can’t see past making small batches of country wine. However, 1 gallon batches are just a bit too small and a bit of a faff.

I’d like to have enough in front of me that I can age some for a good period. But, I’m not adverse to buying commercial wine, particularly as I’m not planning to make any grape wines.

I think I’ll probably end up with a mix of 23ltr and 11ltr (6 and 3 gal) carboys to use as secondaries. All my 1g demijohns will be used for long term storage (probably).

Physical capability isn’t an issue but I’m all about working smart rather than hard. No point in wrecking yourself.

I’ll try these 11ltr carboys I’ve ordered and who knows, I might be looking for stainless steel tanks next week.
 

Latest posts

Top