Selecting yesat strain

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Sep 5, 2008
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Hello everyone,

I'm not a wine maker...yet. I am however a fairly experienced beer homebrewer and so I'm familiar with the basics where similar to beer making. I have a friend/colleague whose family has been making wine for several generations. Each year they produce one barrel in November. There process is to crush the grapes and place the material in loosely covered tubs. After 3 days, the material is pressed and the juice is placed into the barrel. During the course of the year, the wine is rack several times to remove sediment. After a year they jug/bottle it. That's it. What struck me is that they allow a wild fermentation to take place for better or worse. This year I'm planning to attend the crush day and they have been nice enough to allow me to collect a few gallons off the crush to make my own batch. As an experiment, I plan to stun the wild flora with Campton tablets and inoculate with a liquid yeast strain.

My question is: what yeast strain should I select? I typically use White Labs or Wyeast brands. They are using Thompson Seedless (aka Sultana) and Alicante Bouschet at a 17 to 3 ratio (# of cases).

Also, any process suggestions would be great (additives?, yeast starter?, feeding?, nutrients?, acid additions?, temperature?). I'd like to keep the process as simple as possible to really see the difference that the yeast will make on the wine compared to the wild fermented batch.

Thanks in advance for the help!
You are in a wonderful position to learn much about the traditional method of wine making.

If I were in your shoes, I would take the opportunity to emulate everything EXACTLY as they do.

You have the rest of your life to hammer on, and tinker with, the process once you thoroughly understand all of the nuances involved.

Of course, some yeasts perform better under some conditions than others, but I don't think that any yeast, including the culture that Mother Nature put on the skin of those grapes, will disappoint you.

Check out...

I agree with oxeye. Chances are if they use the same barrel every year they are using the same yeast strain as its in the wood. Id try just following them on this one, if you like their wine. If not then you need to try a different yeast.
What kind of wine do you want to end up with? You can try a Montrachet white or Lalvin K1-V1116 (Montpellier). I am sure there will be other examples given also.

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