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Stuck/ slow blueberry wine

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chris1996

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Hi guys,
This is my third wine that I've made so far the others being dragon blood and a kit wine I decided to try my hand at blueberry wine. I added a bit too much sugar at the start so it started with an SG of 1.100. After a month it only got down to 1.010. Now it being over a month closer to two months im getting worried. I tried restarting it with a starter and it's only down to 1.008. I was wanting to get this to be a dry wine but now I'm not sure if its possible. I made it basically the same way as dragons blood but added some acid blend in it. Any help or comments are apreicated
 

HillPeople

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We have made a lot of blueberry over the years and try to ferment it dry. Starting SG 1.095, finish .992. Last year's batch finished at 1.002 and people actually preferred it to other years. 1.008 is a little high for my taste, but I'd be tempted to to just let it sit as is. What yeast did you use? Any yeast nutrient addition midway in the ferment?
 

chris1996

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I added all in lalvin 1118 with the recommended amount of both energizer and nutrient. Should I add more to it?
 

pip

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I'd try to warm it close to 80F for a bit. Maybe a tiny bit of nutrient, a good stir? If you're worried about infection you could put into glass and airlock without adding sorbate, keep it in a warm place, it may finish off in a week or two?

Also, not sure adding acid to straight blueberry is advisable. You might want to check the ph.
 

MariusTitulescu

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I wouldn't add acid if I were you, especially not as much as for other fruits. Berries are highly acidic.
 

chris1996

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Alright I just gave it a stir in its carboy and it's in a room that's 78f. I'll give it a few more weeks
 

Johnd

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Alright I just gave it a stir in its carboy and it's in a room that's 78f. I'll give it a few more weeks
Chris, you should check the pH. As mentioned in a previous post, blueberries are quite acidic, frequently with a pH in the 3.00 range or lower, to which you added acid blend, further lowering the pH.
My guess as to your issue is this: you got fermentation started in this acidic environment, but as your alcohol content increased, this increased the stress on your yeast, which were probably already stressed due to the low pH. The duo of low pH and alcohol overcame your yeast. A high alcohol, low pH environment is a difficult one to restart a yeast in, even EC-1118.
If raising the temps doesn't help, and you're dead set on getting it dry, consider raising the pH with potassium bicarbonate into the low 3.xx's, like 3.20 or better. Get some 1118 started in a separate fermenter with some kind of juice, apple, grape, or something. When it's rolling, slowly introduce some of your wine into the fermenter over a few day period until it's all in there and fermenting, hopefully, you'll get it to go dry.
I suspect once it's dry, you'll discover it needs a little sweetness added to improve it, especially if you do indeed have a low pH.
 

chris1996

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So when I was making this I had too much to fit into one Carnot so I had to fill a one gallon jug with it. I just checked the gravity on both the 5 gallon and the one gallon. The one gallon actually got down to .999 while even after trying what most of you guys said to try still stayed at 1.008 for a month. And where I am I don't have access to ph testers. What else could I try?
 
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Try champagne yeast? Problem might be that the wine ends up being 'hot' (higher alcohol), but worth a try at this point. Small amount in a cup of water - 70 degrees or so. Once it starts foaming a little gently stir it in. Do this a couple of times and see if fermentation starts back up. Keep the carboy covered and dark. If it ferments but ends up too high on the alcohol you might dilute it down with some distilled water...but that will cut down on the body/flavor. Possibly back-sweeten (carefully) if needed.
 

meadmaker1

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If you added too much sugar topping off with a little water has allowed a batch or two I've done re start.
Then of course I added sorbate and sweetened back.
Try to take dry so ferm stops. I learned this getting my bottle bomb merit badge
 

chris1996

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I'll try Diluting it with water a bit to see if it helps. I've tried restarting with some ec 1118 which i believe is a champagne yeast by starting it in a bit of light sugar water then over a hour or so slowly added some of the juice into it until I had about a half a gallon of yeast with wine bubbling away. That time it dropped from 1.010 to 1.008 where it has now sat at again for a month. The batch sits in a closest that is almost always closed off from light and it kept at 78f
 

drainsurgeon

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Well, if you're truly stuck (no pun intended) and you can't get it any lower than 1.008, you could make a port out of the batch. Another post I read here recently mentioned making a blueberry port. Sounds good actually.

You are at 12% right now. If you have 6 gallons of wine and want to fortify with, say brandy (at 40% ABV), you will need 2.4 gallons of fortifier to bring it to 20% for a port. Just an idea.
 
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Wgayler

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Dragons Blood Wine

I am writing coz I am a novice and need some feedback. I started my first experimental 2 gallon batch of blackberry/raspberry wine and followed a recipe I found here. I pitched the yeast after the fruit soaking for 24 hours in the initial ingredients including 20 ounces of lemon juice and 4lbs of sugar at 6:30 pm last Sunday 6/18 and it appears the co2 bublles have stopped on 6/22 3pm. The SG is only 1.020 and the ph is 3.0 and am curiious if it is ready for the secondary fermentation phase? I am also wondering if the ph is too low and the SG is too high? Or if I am ok? Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

Stressbaby

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I am writing coz I am a novice and need some feedback. I started my first experimental 2 gallon batch of blackberry/raspberry wine and followed a recipe I found here. I pitched the yeast after the fruit soaking for 24 hours in the initial ingredients including 20 ounces of lemon juice and 4lbs of sugar at 6:30 pm last Sunday 6/18 and it appears the co2 bublles have stopped on 6/22 3pm. The SG is only 1.020 and the ph is 3.0 and am curiious if it is ready for the secondary fermentation phase? I am also wondering if the ph is too low and the SG is too high? Or if I am ok? Thanks in advance for any advice.
I generally move the wine to carboy 1.010-1.020 but it depends on the wine and the ferment. If there is any question of whether it will finish in the carboy, it is perhaps best to wait so that if it does stick you can manage that in the primary.

When you move a wine to glass it often slows or even temporarily stops it's apparent fermentation.
 

drainsurgeon

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I am writing coz I am a novice and need some feedback. I started my first experimental 2 gallon batch of blackberry/raspberry wine and followed a recipe I found here. I pitched the yeast after the fruit soaking for 24 hours in the initial ingredients including 20 ounces of lemon juice and 4lbs of sugar at 6:30 pm last Sunday 6/18 and it appears the co2 bublles have stopped on 6/22 3pm. The SG is only 1.020 and the ph is 3.0 and am curiious if it is ready for the secondary fermentation phase? I am also wondering if the ph is too low and the SG is too high? Or if I am ok? Thanks in advance for any advice.
I'm not sure how big your primary is but when you get down to 1.01 or lower, there is not much co2 coming off the must to protect it from contamination or oxidation. I would rack into a vessle(s) of appropriate size to eliminate some head space and get it under airlock. Finishing the ferment in the primary is ok as long as you have it airlocked and your primary isn't way oversized. If your 2 gallon batch is in a 6 or 7 gallon primary, I would rack into 1 gallon jugs and get it under airlock soon. You don't really have to sulfite until the ferment is done. When you get down around .995 or lower with no movement for 3 days, time to hit with kmeta. Hope this helps.
 

VANDOVJV11

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I had a batch of blueberry that kept getting stuck . My wine shop guy said blueberries are frequently difficult to kick into good fermentation and gave me a suggestion that worked for me. Make a robust starter of 1 quart of pure grape juice and let it work for several hours before adding to the blueberry must.
 

Scooter68

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I had a batch of blueberry that kept getting stuck . My wine shop guy said blueberries are frequently difficult to kick into good fermentation and gave me a suggestion that worked for me. Make a robust starter of 1 quart of pure grape juice and let it work for several hours before adding to the blueberry must.
Three batches of blueberry wine and so far never an issue getting it started or with it finishing. First went to .990 in less than 4 days. Last one started fermenting well within 24 hours (At 75 Degrees in a 5 gallon bucket) Middle one...a bit acidic but it took off well and fermented dry nicely.


One thing I would recommend with blueberry wine is NEVER add any acid blend or any acid until you have everything else in your bucket and you think you are ready to go. My homegrown blueberries don't need any acid. Last batch started at pH 2.86 and at last test (1 week after end of fermentation has climbed to 3.00 At this point I'm not worried about the pH level. Primary acid in blueberries is Critric Acid and from what I've read it tends to mellow on it's own and my experiences have shown that. Our last bottle of that first blueberry wine was 2 years old when we popped the cork and it was a delight, no sharpness or burn at all.
 

Chris P

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I started with 3 carboys of blueberry wine, all made from the exact same batch of must. Initial SG was 1.09 (on a hydrometer), pitched with Montrachet yeast. all three ran healthy for a week or so, then stopped dead at 1.05. I repitched several times after creating starters good starters using the 'add sugar, energizer, and dilute with water' technique only to have the bottles stop dead again.

suspecting it was something in the environment, and reading through every "stuck blueberry wine" forum topic/thread, I bought a PH meter, and did some testing. turns out the PH in the bottles was .... 2.4!! it was more acidic than vinegar. I bought some calcium carbonate and potassium bicarb, and went to work. Brought all three carboys up to ~3.8. One spontaneously began fermenting within about 6 hours.

The other two however needed a jumpstart. It took a couple of tries, and a yeast upgrade (switched to the more hardy EC1118) and they both started up, but one (my problem child now) stopped at 1.04 and hasn't moved. I thought maybe it was just slow, and left it for months.

I just pulled it off the shelf to test it, and here's the vitals: SG (on a refractometer - not adjusted): 1.040. PH: 4.2 (it went up, but I hear that's normal). Total acid: 0.3% (i'm not good with doing titration tests, so this could be wrong).

Now, I can't even get a starter to start. Any thoughts on what to do?
 

Chris P

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Well, okay. four starters later, I think I finally restarted it! I think I can boil this stuck fermentation down to 4(ish) critical mistakes.

Mistake #1: I checked my logbook and one of the last entries (about 6 months ago) was me feeding the must with a little over 2 cups of sugar water. I had to do this because the must was stuck, and the volume of the carboy was low enough that when strong weather fronts came through, (or my neighboring apartment tenants slammed their doors) the bottle would suck the contents of the airlock in. So I had to do something to reduce the air volume inside.

I had originally added just enough sugar that the montrachet yeast would just about max-out. Adding this next batch of sugar would eventually bring them over the edge. That would explain the initial fermentation (the water would have raised the really acidic PH to tolerable levels for a spell) that then became a very very slow fermentation later. (the montrachet would have gradually gone up to ~8 - 10% before shutting down)

Mistake #2: not realizing #1, I pitched again with montrachet. Then assumed something was critically wrong because i had so much sugar left over.

Mistake #3: I pitched EC1118 before checking the PH (the 2.4 value was just killing it all).

Mistake #4: I used my 'ancient wisdom' to remember how to make a mixture starter. I added 1part water to 1part must, and a small amount of yeast energizer. The starter would run for a couple of hours, then die off. I assumed that based on the other problems above, something in the must was killing the yeast.

A few days, and 3 starter attempts later, I realized - in my usual 4am wake-up jolt way - that I had completely forgotten to add sugar to the starter. I pulled out my refractometer, and checked the gravity, and sure enough, it was ~1.015 (which after alcohol correction is just about dry). I added sugar, brought the inactive starter up to 1.05, and about 30 min later, boom. it was running using the ec1118 yeast.

About 3 days ago, I pitched half of a semi-active starter with EC1118 into the carboy in the hopes something would take hold, but there was 0 activity after that. Around the same time I realized the starters were starving, I noticed a couple of very tiny bubbles starting in the carboy too. I fed the starters, cranked them up, and started putting half the starter in the must, and pulling an equivalent portion of must out and back in to the starter (the hope was to gradually raise % must to starter to prepare the colony for the main gig).

As of today, it looks like the must has some steam and is going again; the starter is ready to go in too.

This thread (and a few others on stuck blueberry wines) has been super helpful in this process. Thanks everyone!
 
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