Walla Walla Grenache - Sophmore Ferment My Do's & Didn'ts

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.


Jan 24, 2022
Reaction score
Well I came to the conclusion that it would not excite me to compete with all the Cabs out there on the market. There are so many excellently made Cabs in every conceivable price category that I could not get motivated about trying to fit in with the crowd. Just don't think I could justify all the effort for a...meh. (I am being honest, right) So I was thinking back to when I was on a vacation last year in Belize and I remembered this great Spanish Garnacha that I loved. It was cheap, simple, easy drinking and good in the heat. Nothing complex but very satisfying.
With that in the back of my mind, I set out on my fall adventure of my second fermentation.
Since I had been wrestling with what I wanted to make, I was late to the game. Work schedules didn't help.
So I settled on frozen must from the guys at Wine Grapes Direct - 2021 Walla Walla Grenache

This is what I learned/ did differently than my first ever fermentation. May or may not be useful info for other beginners, you decide.
Started Nov 9th

1) Planned things out ahead of time. This was a big one. I wrote down all the things I would need and created a "protocol"
2) Got a decent digital thermometer added to my arsenal
3) Upped my volume to 100 lbs of must. I think with grapes you need more......if you can. How much? Just more. I'll keep pushing next year.
4) As grenache can be, it was high in sugar at over 27.5 brix. I watered back per the formula. This was a first for me. Kinda intimidating.
5) Knowing that it is hard to coax color from grenache I used Lalzyme enzyme to help break down the skins. This was a first for me. It was hard to tell how active this was as this batch was quite soupy from the start. Rhone varietals apparently yield more juice than a Bordelaise grape.
6) Paid attention and followed my protocol when re hydrating my yeast. Digital thermometer helped. Got a good batch going and this really boosted my confidence. I think I beat them to death last year.
7) Fermentation started on schedule. Fed with Fermaid K and then also again wit Fermaid O. I was more proactive this time and fed them per the schedule, first batch at take off and second batch after a third drop in brix. Last year I lost sleep as my yeast struggled to go. This year very steady. Great sleep.
8) Added FT Rouge tannin. This was a first for me.
9) Had a very steady fermentation that averaged about 72 deg over 9 days. Peak on day 4 was 74 deg. Pressed on day 10.
10) I made a bucket press. If you are just starting out I would say it's a good idea. It kept things nice and clean and made it easy to drain into a bucket for transfer to the carboy. I would say that after doing it one time, I will prioritize spending to get a real press. I would have liked just a bit more juice out of that must!
11) Got a chromatography test kit. No more guessing. Super easy. Very interesting and after second test and about 8 weeks was finished. Highly recommend

What I did NOT do:
1) I did not drain off a saignee. After watering back, I got the feeling I should. I just couldn't wrap my head around draining from such a small batch. Only 10 gallons. It is counter intuitive to add water and then drain it back off.
Will it matter???
2) I measured the pH of the juice before fermentation. 3.60. Yikes. I did not adjust and I really think I should have to some degree. So now I sit with wine at 3.67. I just had too much to work on improving and this got left in the dust. Will I alter????

So, I can say for sure when you have your ducks in a row it is much more fun......and leads to better success, less stress, better sleep, increased self confidence, even world peace. I racked off the light lees today upon malo completion and added my sulphur. Unfortunately a pretty heavy dose.
The good news. Sample taste was Really good. Color is super light as expected but still a nice garnet hue. I will probably blend some with a touch of syrah at some point but may also keep some as is. I can imagine myself with a slightly chilled glass next fall on the beach........just close my eyes and I'll be back in Belize!!
Great post. I agree those Spanish Garnachas are great and often inexpensive. When Costco features them, I buy as they do not last on the shelves. I believe in Spain they often blend with Mourvedre (Mataro in Spain) or Cabernet to darken it a bit.

Your method is sound. In fact, in my view, you did everything right. Your pH is perfect. Nice results too that you can enjoy for years. I agree the more you make the easier it is, because the inevitable racking losses are less as a proportion of the total. From now on, you can't post in the beginner section! What yeast did you choose?

What's next on the agenda?
Great post. I agree those Spanish Garnachas are great and often inexpensive. When Costco features them, I buy as they do not last on the shelves. I believe in Spain they often blend with Mourvedre (Mataro in Spain) or Cabernet to darken it a bit.

Or Monastrell. I could be wrong, but I thought Monastrell is the grape and Mataro is the city. Kind of like Burgundy and Pinot Noir.
Ha. It's actually Mourvedre, but it originated in Spain (maybe), so do the Spanish or the French get to name it. I don't know. The Romans drank this wine. What did they call it? I'll bet they called it "wine" and carried on...

I do find it cool that Mourvedre is an ancient wine grape that you can still drink today.
Well, lets split the difference on all this naming debate and call ourselves "Rhone Rangers"!
We can blend and call it whatever, although I feel the GSM moniker is a little banal. Just no class. Cote du Rhone sounds so much better.
We need a marketing makeover in the US with these varietals.

CDrew - I definitely want to have a second batch to blend next time. That would be a great next step for me. A batch of S or M to blend with .
Oddly enough I used D21 yeast. Not because I wanted to specifically but rather I overlooked the fact that I switched grapes from Cab at the last minute. I had everything written down just overlooked it. Not sure what I would have used for Grenache but the D21 did the job and I don't think it gave any off flavors or anything as far as I can tell so far. One of my carboys did go a little reductive the day I was settling the gross lees but splash racked away no problem.
I grow and make Grenache you did a lot better than I did my first time around. I do pull juice off and 27 brix will give flavors and and softer tannins than under 25 will. Don't get hung up on color use moderation if you decide to blend but enjoy the fruit profile you only get from Grenache.