Cellar Craft Thoughts on Tweaks for CC Old Vine Zinfandel Kit

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Senior Member
Jul 11, 2008
Reaction score
Iowa, USA
The replacement kit just arrived over the weekend. After much thought, I thinking about doing some tweaks to the kit and wanted some feedback. Granted, I just started my first kit CC OVZ kit last month, so I don't even know how the kit is going to come out as per the instructions. However, know a couple of tweaks could push this kit into a direction towards the type of Zin I'm looking for.

Note: I am planning on bulk aging for a year, then bottle aging for 6-12 months more. Then slowing drinking through the bottles. Saving them for date nights and special occasions.

I'd like to nudge this towards being a big, jammy, Zin with some smoke and spice.

To achieve this, I looking at splitting the kit into two batches, after combining the concentrate with water to 6 gallons. Fermenting both batches until dry. Then combine them in a secondary for bulk aging.

The first batch will be fermented using D254. This yeast is described as providing jammy, ripe fruit, and cedar aromas. Enhances mouthfeel with high fore-mouth volume, big mid-palate mouthfeel. It gives intense fruit, mild spice with smooth tannins.

The second batch will be fermented using D80. This yeast is said to bring out varietal aromas and rich concentrated flavors found in Zinfandel. It also enhances mouthfeel with high fore-mouth volume, big mid-palate mouthfeel, and intense fine-grain tannin. Also adds dark fruit, smoke, and a licorice finish.

When blending these two, D80 brings more tannin intensity to the blend, providing complexity, structure, and fuller-body.

I'm also thinking of increasing the ABV of the kit. Zins generally have a higher ABV which adds to the texture and body of the wine. The Kit states the abv is around 13%, however, I'd like to shoot for an abv around 14%. The CC OVZ I just did only had a starting SG of about 1.074. Granted, I believe there are sugars in the grape pack that did not fully dissolve and I'm guessing that the starting SG was closer to 1.089ish. Depending on the SG of the juice in this box, I'll be adding ~1.5 lbs of sugar to achieve 14%. I know Zins can have higher ABVs, I just don't want to push it. But if I accidentally overshoot, time will allow the higher alcohol content to mellow and meld.

I've seen others add extra tanning to increase body and mouthfeel to kits. I've decided against this, as it is already getting tannins from the grape pack (which appears to include some steams and such) and I don't want to overdo it.

So, that's my plan. Thoughts?

I think those two tweaks are quite reasonable, and I wouldn't hesitate to use both of them

I always swap yeasts, too, but I would caution you not to expect miracles from using different yeasts!
FWIW, eventually my best results came from adding tannins. I agree with your thought process to NOT do that tweak at this stage, but rather to see how you can get the most out of the kit with "nudges" (as you so aptly put it). Down the road, you could try a kit with some added tannins and see how you like the result.
Very true. Since the two kits will only be made a couple months apart, it will be interesting to see how these will differ.
Rather then add sugar you could reduce water to get the starting SG where you want it. That would give the benefit of giving the finished wine more body and flavor. Also a med + or heavy toast American oak spiral while aging.
That's call stretching the base , by pulling it up to the SG a little at a time in principle your saving the structure of the wine and balanceing the overall mix.
That's call stretching the base , by pulling it up to the SG a little at a time in principle your saving the structure of the wine and balanceing the overall mix.
Which method are you referring to, reducing the water, or adding sugar?
@joeswine what else would you recommend doing to make this kit the best it can be?

@sour_grapes How much Tannins and what type do you normally use? Add to Primary, secondary or both?

How much extra oak would everyone recommend? I have some heavy french oak cubes (6 yrs old). Thoughts?
I'm wondering. Would doing this be worth the extra effort (splitting and blending). Esp. for someone just getting back into the winemaking journey.

1. Will the different yeast impart much of a favor difference on kit wines?

2. Am I thinking too far outside the box?

3. Should I try something else to help bring out the best in this kit, that might be easier? Like stretching the base and adding extra Tannin.

4. Should I just stop stressing about it and make the damn kit per the instructions and just let time do its thing? LOL

Okay, now that I'm typing this, I might just go with option 4. If I'm stressing about the tweaks and asking these questions, I may not be ready to tweak this kit. I save the tweaks for a cheaper kit I have.

I need a glass of wine...
I always say, if you have fo ask about tweaks, don't do them.

Simple changes to do that might make a difference, might not, yeast change, added tannins, added oak. To me, added oak is the easiest one to think about and you can decide to do, not do late in the process. Same thing with added tannin, I almost always add about a tablespoon in the primary and then sometimes add more later, based on taste. Changing yeast, I think this had the least impact, if you age your wine over a year. I generally don't add flavor enhancements to higher end kits. And try to remember, doing less is often the best choice. (St leeway that is my experience)

Latest posts