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Secondary Fermenation and Racking With Whole Clusters

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nhinshaw

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Hi all, I have a question about how to proceed past primary fermentation when my must is a mix of skins, stems, and juice.

Where I'm at:
I've been fermenting in two Big Mouth Bubblers after lightly pressing 3 lugs of whole grapes (stems included). Fermentation has been going very nicely and my last SG reading was 1.020 (down from 1.090 to start).

I've just added airlocks and fermentation is still moving forward.

My question is how to plan my next steps:
I'd like to leave the juice in contact with the skins for as long as possible, but I'm worried about leaving the must in too much contact with the spent yeast. Is there general timetable for how long everything can hangout in the primary fermentation vessel?

I've also got concern about pressing: is there an issue with just dumping the contents of the bubblers into the press then racking off after everything settles out that isn't caught by the press bag?

Thanks in advance for any advice, insight, or personal experience you can share.
 

pgentile

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What type of wine?

Some will press once SG is 1.010 or under. I tend to go dry below 1.000 before I press. There are loose timetables but each ferment can be different. Some go 3 days others 10. But I typically find primary for all grape wines take 5-7 days. Then rack 24-48 after press off gross lees.

You can dump everything in and then press. Protocol for many is never have stems in your grape must or a real low percentage. In certain situations stems in the must and being pressed can bring unpleasant aspects to your wine. However I don't have a de-stemmer, and have hand de-stemmed a number of my earlier batches, I now crush and then pull out stems the first several days of fermentation as I punch down the cap. Getting 70-80% of them out. No astringent or vegetal aspects with this method.
 

nhinshaw

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Hi pgentile, thanks for the reply!

I'm doing a co-ferment of Carignan and Alicante Bouschet.

I'm planning to ferment to dry, but I'm also trying to go for something akin to an extended maceration. I wasn't able to do a cold soak before fermentation (the must did spend close to 48hrs before pitching the yeast). Leaving the stems in was a deliberate decision as I'm trying to balance a "natural wine making process" with the realities of being a novice home winemaker without a truly dedicated space to better control the environment.

I think the real root of my question is something like: how long after completing primary fermentation do I need to press and rack? I'm not opposed to a "funky wine", but I don't want to ruin the batch by letting an idea (extended skin contact) beat logic.
 

Ajmassa

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As you draw closer to dryness stop punching the cap. At some point you punch it and it doesn’t come back. But if left alone at 1.005ish it should remain intact adding extra protection. (I just make a hole to pull samples). You could stretch it a couple days this way. Want Longer? Probably need to go another step with a diy variable capacity style lid via plastic on top of the cap. But that’s outta my pay grade.
 

nhinshaw

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Thanks for the reply Ajmassa5983. That all makes sense, with the cap there's not a ton of room at the top of the BMB but probably more than is safe to leave for an extended period of time.

Seems like I've maybe got a few days after fermentation completes to get everything into the press and off the skins / stems / spent yeast.
 

Ajmassa

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I just did this too. Mainly because it’s easier for me to pump out most of the free run with majority of solids up top. But life got in the way and stretched from 7 to 9 days till pressing.
Should say I did catch some funky odors at pressing. However this was native yeast and no nutrients used. It dissipated after racking off lees a few days later. Nothing to shake a stick at.
 

Ajmassa

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Including/not including stems is an interesting topic. Lots of old timers don’t think twice to leave em. I’ve had their wine. Was damn good too. I read if the stems were still green is when you definitely don’t want them.
Since you’ve got em, combined with the possibility of developing off odors the longer it sits, I’d be nervous pushing it too long.
I don’t know. EM, a real EM of x weeks, is a ballsy move. But I do see it done with success on this forum utilizing that big mouth.
So many techniques and unique styles in this hobby. And the amount of info to research is endless. One of the many reasons why I love it.
 

Johnd

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Including/not including stems is an interesting topic. Lots of old timers don’t think twice to leave em. I’ve had their wine. Was damn good too. I read if the stems were still green is when you definitely don’t want them.
So many techniques and unique styles in this hobby. And the amount of info to research is endless. One of the many reasons why I love it.
I don’t have the palate to do it, but have read several articles where the winemaker tasted the grapes at harvest, decided that the tannin content in the skins was on the low side, and therefore left a portion of the stems in to compensate. That’s the art part......maybe one day.
 

Ajmassa

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I don’t have the palate to do it, but have read several articles where the winemaker tasted the grapes at harvest, decided that the tannin content in the skins was on the low side, and therefore left a portion of the stems in to compensate. That’s the art part......maybe one day.
Yerp. Read a lengthy one all About including stems or not. Nothing concrete. Each winemaker had their own opinions. And it was extremely in depth. All on this one little topic.
Recently read a long one about grapes “hang time” on the vine. Another on cold stabilization.
But in each topic there’s always one similarity- the goal of the winemaker seems to be finding the perfect balance of science and art. And for us non pros we get the added variable of limited means all around. But I like the challenge. And I like the whole cluster extended fermentation move from the OP. @nhinshaw good luck with this one. Btw what kinda grapes you cooking?
 

Ajmassa

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I've also got concern about pressing: is there an issue with just dumping the contents of the bubblers into the press then racking off after everything settles out that isn't caught by the press bag?
.
Also, I wouldn’t worry about this one. Last fall I made the decision to run 100% through the press for a few reasons. I don’t know your pressing method but I used 2 metal strainers placed on top of the receiving bucket. A Johnd recommendation ;) When the top one got gunked up I just rinsed it off and placed under the other, rinse and repeat. Still some solids made it thru
When racking I tie a piece of mesh to the end of the racking cane and keep it off the bottom. Pretty clear by that point.
It’s funny- wifey commented recently overlooking my operation. She was thoroughly impressed at all the little problem solving tricks. I didn’t have the heart to take credit. Admitted that I’m not a genius, just an avid reader of this forum. :)
 

Johnd

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Btw what kinda grapes you cooking?
Nothing cooking yet. Got 30 lugs of Cab coming from Lodi on a reefer truck to a nearby winery, piggybacked my order in with theirs. Was hoping to get some premium grapes, but they won’t be picked in time for the reefer delivery. Grapes will be picked tomorrow, into the truck, here on Thursday morning. Probably will start a new thread on the effort once it gets cranked up.
 

Ajmassa

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Of course.......little bit for Santa Claus, little bit more for Santa Claus.......
The Magic Dust! Lololol. A Christmas tradition growing up. My old man put that record on the turntable every year. Even as a little kid that barely understood it, I loved it just b/c of how much he loved it. That ‘Santa’s magic dust’ line especially.
I’ve also got some product awaiting a reefer delivery this week. Here’s to both of our reefer orders going smooth.

And the question goes for OP @nhinshaw as well for the batch of topic. What grapes you cookin in those bubblers?
 

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