Simply CANNOT get blueberry wine to start fermenting

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Feb 3, 2008
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Hi everyone,
I've been making wine for about a year now and have had many successful batches. However, I started in to a five gallon batch of blueberry wine and simply cannot get it to start fermenting. I've started nearly 8 yeast starters, and every time they get frothy with yeast, crackle and pop, and make the whole kitchen smell like bread. As soon as I pour them into the must, fzzzt. Gone.
I've had to rack it and clean it to remove all of the dead yeast and have started again. Each time it goes completely dead as soon as I put it in the must. I've checked the acidity, the sugar levels with a hydrometer, etc, and it's all correct.
I started a yeast starter and planned on adding a small amount at a time so that it could grow. After the starter started up, (and had a 2 inch tall foamy head of yeast on it), I only added a few cups of the must and within hours it went dead again.

I have NO clue what to do. I currently have five gallons and $50 worth of fresh blueberries sitting in a bucket that I have been diligently working on for over two weeks. It's got me so frustrated I'm sick to my stomach (first because it doesn't make any sense, and secondly because that's a lot of money down the drain if I can't get it going).

Please, any and all ideas will be highly regarded and appreciated. Thanks.
Any more info you can give us ??

What is the SG and acidity of the must for example.

Did you add sulphite ???
Do you know if the berries were treated in any way before you bought them ???

A tip.
Make a yeast starter from apple juice.
Wait till it ferments vigorously.
Add some must and wait again till it ferments vigorously.
Then add half the volume in must and wait again.
Add then again half the volume in must and wait again untill fermenting vigorously. etc etc etc.

So each time you add a bit more must and so the yeast has time to get accustomed to the new environment.

I'm just a beginner but maybe you can try to aerate the must. What temp is your must? When it's been cooler I've used a heat lamp on the primary to get my fermentation going then take it away once it's going.

giving us the recipe will help..

blueberries and cranberries are difficult to ferment...

Did you make a true starter or rehydrate the yeast? To make a true starter you should rehydrate your yeast and add it to a small amount of the Must to create a mini fermentation. You let that get rolling and then add it to the main Must. You should assure the Must is properly balanced in regards to acid and pH. Yeast Energizer and Yeast nutrient are highly recommended with a Blueberry.

There is an acid in blueberries called Sorbic Acid that plays heck with fermentation. Yeast cells are a bit turned off by this acid. It is a very very slow fermenting wine. Many believe there is no fermentation but if you check the gravity regularly you may see a slow drop in gravity meaning there is indeed fermentation. I had one batch that took close to 6 months to ferment out.
I made a basically all blueberry port recently.. and added 2 kilos of dried helped the fermentation immensely.

fermentation challenges

I have a natal plum (the taste is tart - very similar in taste to cranberries) 3 gallon batch going now and have had a tough time with it also. It didn't help that I ran out of yeast nutrient, so had to add a multivitamin. However, the key for me was the addition of more bananas (I already had a few in the mix,but ended up with at least 8 more). And used the bananas for the starter also.

It still was much slower going (at least visually) than any past batches, but have finally moved on to secondary....

Try bananas!
We need more info about anything you added to the blueberries, it really sounds like a sulphite problem.
Hey everyone,
I'm sorry I didn't write anything back. The site is on instant email notification and I never got anything telling me I had replies (not in the spam folder either, may have to look into it), so I didn't know I had all your help.

Either way, I finally got it going. It took a lot of work, about five or more starters, and slow diligent patience. Made a strong starter and added about a half a cup of juice at a time, let it start up, and repeat, until it was finally all going. 1/2 a cup at a time with 5 gallons took a while. :d

I'm still not sure what the issue was. Sugar was 1.090 when I started, acid was at a good level, and it had been stirred vigorously every day for about a week so I'm sure all of the campden powder I put in was out.

All in all, it took about 3 weeks to get it going. Very frustrating. I'm just hoping it's still alright. I guess we'll see when I taste it next.

Thank you for all of your replies in the mean time, I wish I had gotten them.
What kind of yeast did have you tried on this? Are you sure you didnt dble the # of campden tablets by accident. sometimes during the process of getting everything ready you can get distracted and either omit or dble something. I know Ive done it before with sobate which wasnt a pleasant thing when bottles started blowing corks in my wine room. Luckily the shrink wraps held quite a few corks back, about 15 bottles with corks trying to bulg past the shrink wrap but 3 had taken the shrink capsules right off and sprayed my room and a bunch of bottles also. This stuff was very sticky!!!!!!!!!!

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