Whole Cluster White Grapes

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grape juice artisan
Supporting Member
Jul 1, 2018
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PNW - South Sound
I'm getting my first whole white grapes, Rousaane, Marsanne and Viognier, in a couple of weeks. I've made white wine many times but only from pressed juice and wine kits.


1. Do I destem, crush, add some maceration time (how much?), and press (1 bar like I would a post ferment red wine) and produce juice that way? Then, add yeast?
2. Do I press the whole clusters and then add yeast?

I'm planning on using Fresco as the yeast.

Any advice?
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Last year, I foot trodded chard about 30% whole cluster/ let sit and sent the rest through the destemmer directly to the bladder press. On the 2nd press load I put the foot trodden grapes (2 hours later) in the press and then put the rest of the destemmed on top. All pressed at 1 bar. Bladder press didn’t like the whole cluster too much. This year I plan to do 30% again foot trod, sit for 2 hours, and then send through the destemmer instead of relying on the press to finish off the grapes. I settled the juice for 24 hr and then racked off solids and started fermentation. Wine has more structure than same wine that was all destemmed previous year.
I'm not sure that home winemaking-scale presses are up to the task of whole cluster pressing. Commercial bladder presses typically tumble the grapes at intervals during the press cycle while ramping up the pressure; home presses (both bladder and basket) don't do this. I guess it might be feasible but I expect you'd have to break up the cake and re-press several times to get a tolerable yield.

I have limited experience here since I made my first (homemade) white wines last year - but I crushed/destemmed first before going straight into the press. In my case two of the wines were white pinot noir (sparkling and still), so I had to work quickly in order to avoid extended skin contact and color extraction. Crush/destem enough for one press basket, press it out, repeat. However, you might want to consider a short (overnight) maceration with 'real' white grapes. If you do this, keep the crushed grapes as cool as possible and I would suggest a K-meta addition (30-50ppm depending on grape quality) to blunt any native yeasts and other microorganisms.

Whatever you decide, after pressing out your juice let it settle overnight to drop out the gross solids, then rack into your fermentation vessel(s) before pitching yeast. Keep it cool during fermentation to preserve the aromatics...
You can flood the press skins with first run juice sediment (24 hours) and pectic enzyme with some sulphite. Then repress after 48 hours pectic enzyme soak. Every 2 bottles of 1st run will give you 1 bottle of 2nd run. Viognier processed this way could make a stunning 2nd run alone or mixed with Marsanne and Rousanne. You can even add Viognier 2nd run to Viognier 1st run. The key is to not add any sugar or water to the 2nd run.
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