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MiBor

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Welcome to the WMT forums, @Handy Andy. I never visited the Azores, but I read that grapes were grown there for over 3 centuries and at some point wine was a main export of the islands. São Jorge Island - Wikipedia
I really believe that the grapes in your 3 small vineyards have a good chance of turning into good wine, but you'll have to learn a lot of things about maintaining the grape vines and about making wine first. From what you're saying it doesn't sound like your neighbors will be much help, so you'll have to find good info from other sources. I see that there is a bigger winery over on Ilha do Pico and maybe they can give you some initial guidance on what kind of grapes you have and what type of wine is better made with those grapes. Os Melhores Vinhos Regionais dos Açores | Picowines, Ilha do Pico Coop
I know it may feel overwhelming to start making wine in a situation like yours, but don't make any hasty decisions and don't burn anything until you have all the information on hand and looked at all possibilities. Winemaking can be an addictive and also very rewarding hobby, but it requires one thing that a lot of people don't have: patience.
 
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Handy Andy

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I have in my selection of wines a bottle of Farias Vinho tinto from Pico. Due to Covid-19 restrictions I am not sure I will be allowed to travel there, in the immediate future, but will try emailing them. I am not keen on making a wine I can not drink. Farias Vinho Tinto is a reasonable wine. Rather than using wild yeasts, I would like to control my wine making process to hopefully make a wine that is drinkable
 

Newine

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Pruning, canopy management, leaf pulling, cluster thinning may help to deliver better more mature fruit with higher sugar and lower acid. You can pick yeasts to reduce acid like CLOS or 71b, try to innoculate red to go through MLF to convert malic acid to less harsh lactic acid, you can even put red wine through cold arabization to precipitate out some tartaric acid. You probably will have lots o reading to do.
 

sour_grapes

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you can even put red wine through cold arabization to precipitate out some tartaric acid.
No, I don't think so! Even though mainland Portugal was under Arabic rule for ~500 years, this was before the Azores were known to exist! :D :D

Sorry, couldn't resist. I imagine that was supposed to be "cold stabilization"?
 
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Hi

I am panicking slightly having just bought a new house, with 3 small vineyards. I have never made wine before let alone had a vineyard. I think I am going to need some advice. I have a few months before the grapes are ready, and the previous owners left some equipment to make wine behind. There is a big tub I presume for stamping on the grapes, and a press for crushing the grapes, are there pros and cons as to which to use? Would a wood worm infected press affect the taste of the wine? There are barrels made of plastic, wood and of stainless steel, is one better than the other? How is the sediment cleared before the wine goes into the barrels? What is the best thing to do with the grapes after they have been separated from the juice? Is there a step by step fast start guide to making wine for dummies? There are some plastic dustbins, could these have been used for the primary fermentation?
The previous owner has left behind a lot of containers with both white and red wine in them, the white wine tastes OK ish, the red wine is very acidic, is it safe to drink? Might it dissolve the enamel on my teeth? Could the reason for the acidic taste be acetobacter? and is the wine unrecoverably spoilt ie vinegar.

Cheers
Andy
Andy, In a moderate climate like the Azores has the grapes will loose acidity when allowed to fully ripen, as well as fruitiness. One thing to try is harvest some of the grapes earlier, I.E. 19 brix or so. Don't let them get above 21-22 brix. This will preserve the fruitiness and good acid balance. The only down side is that you will have to add sugar to get the brix up to maintain good alcohol levels. I raise Chamborcin here in the Southeast US.. Chambourcin when fully ripened makes an earthy low acid tannic mess. But when harvested at 19 brix makes an incredibly fruity well balanced wine. I add sugar to get the brix to 22. Good luck!
 

Handy Andy

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Andy, In a moderate climate like the Azores has the grapes will loose acidity when allowed to fully ripen, as well as fruitiness. One thing to try is harvest some of the grapes earlier, I.E. 19 brix or so. Don't let them get above 21-22 brix. This will preserve the fruitiness and good acid balance. The only down side is that you will have to add sugar to get the brix up to maintain good alcohol levels. I raise Chamborcin here in the Southeast US.. Chambourcin when fully ripened makes an earthy low acid tannic mess. But when harvested at 19 brix makes an incredibly fruity well balanced wine. I add sugar to get the brix to 22. Good luck!
Thankyou very much for the tip.
 

Handy Andy

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Pruning, canopy management, leaf pulling, cluster thinning may help to deliver better more mature fruit with higher sugar and lower acid. You can pick yeasts to reduce acid like CLOS or 71b, try to innoculate red to go through MLF to convert malic acid to less harsh lactic acid, you can even put red wine through cold arabization to precipitate out some tartaric acid. You probably will have lots o reading to do.
I am correct in thinking I am too late to prune the vines now, grapes beginning to develop already??? also am I too late to thin the clusters of grapes?

If not > How many clusters of grapes should I be aiming for, on each branch of the vines?
 
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I am correct in thinking I am too late to prune the vines now, grapes beginning to develop already??? also am I too late to thin the clusters of grapes?

If not > How many clusters of grapes should I be aiming for, on each branch of the vines?
NO, you should prune no matter how late in the year. I'd say prune everything that is not growing the direction you want, I.E. branches hanging down on VSP and those growing vertical on Top Wire. Try to leave about 26 fruiting branches per vine. If you have a spur that has more than 4 fruiting canes on it cut it off above the forth fruiting cane and leave the rest.
 

Handy Andy

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NO, you should prune no matter how late in the year. I'd say prune everything that is not growing the direction you want, I.E. branches hanging down on VSP and those growing vertical on Top Wire. Try to leave about 26 fruiting branches per vine. If you have a spur that has more than 4 fruiting canes on it cut it off above the forth fruiting cane and leave the rest.
Thanks for confirming that, i have spent the last two days pruning.

I seem to have a problem with some of my vines! in one vineyard.
some vines dont have any grapes, and the vines are not growing as well as the others.
others look like they started to develop grapes, but the clusters have not developed.
I can see no creatures on the vines, except the occasional ant.
There is also no visible fungus on the leaves.
Could the problem be a root problem? or do vines need replacing every few years?

Most of my vines are giving lots of grapes :)
 

hounddawg

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i know nothing about proper wines, but it sounds like you have a bunch of product, more than you can drink?, so if the locals like what is there,and it is sellable, then seems to me you make what they will buy, and fix a spot to raise what you like, and go from there, now remember i started with i know nothing,,,
welcome to WMT, they are just the right people on here that can help you, good luck,
Dawg
 

Handy Andy

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I know nothing, is a very concise summary of my starting point. :)

I have lots of plastic bins but no lids.

Do primary fermentation barrels require lids with gas release devices, or are they normally left open to the air ?
 

Johnd

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I know nothing, is a very concise summary of my starting point. :)

I have lots of plastic bins but no lids.

Do primary fermentation barrels require lids with gas release devices, or are they normally left open to the air ?
No sealing lids with air locks are required, Many of us use large Brute trash cans with the lid loosely on,or with atowel draped over the opening. No need for airtight, just keepout the dust, bugs, etc.
 

Handy Andy

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Thanks for the clarification. It removes a small worry.

I found a Hydrometer in a box, am I correct in thinking this can this be used to measure sugar content or do i need to buy a brix meter?
What other basic test equipment do I need to get my hands on?
 

sour_grapes

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Thanks for the clarification. It removes a small worry.

I found a Hydrometer in a box, am I correct in thinking this can this be used to measure sugar content or do i need to buy a brix meter?
What other basic test equipment do I need to get my hands on?
A hydrometer is very useful for measuring the sugar content in a substantial volume of liquid. I am not sure exactly what you mean by "brix meter," but I am guessing you mean a refractometer. The refractometer is most useful for measuring the sugar content in an individual grape, as a way to determine if it is time to harvest. Refractometers are not straightforward to use to monitor the fermentation process because the presence of alcohol changes the refractive index of the must. Therefore, during fermentation, a simple hydrometer is recommended. But, you need ~100 mL or more to use a hydrometer.
 

Handy Andy

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Thanks for the reply, does everyone use a brix/refractometer meter for testing grapes ?
Am I just as well of testing the must with a hydrometer when I have harvested the grapes, and then adjusting the sugar levels accordingly?

What is the best kit for testing Tartric Acid and PH?
 
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Thanks for confirming that, i have spent the last two days pruning.

I seem to have a problem with some of my vines! in one vineyard.
some vines dont have any grapes, and the vines are not growing as well as the others.
others look like they started to develop grapes, but the clusters have not developed.
I can see no creatures on the vines, except the occasional ant.
There is also no visible fungus on the leaves.
Could the problem be a root problem? or do vines need replacing every few years?

Most of my vines are giving lots of grapes :)
That is really strange that some have grapes and others do not. What is the varietal of the ones that do and the ones that don't?
It could be possible that the flowers were never pollinated? I assume you have bees where you are?
As far as replacing vines I'd say no for sure. Most vines live for decades short of any disease. There is one vine in the slovenia that is know to be over 400 years old. The Oldest Grapevine in the World Survived 400 Years of Turbulent History and Wars, but It Still Bears Fruit
It may be possible that it is a root disease but I'd look at the overall vine health first and ask these questions.
1. Does it have new growth on it?
2. Does the older parts of the vine look health, I.E. more brown than grey?
3. Was it improperly pruned? All grape clusters appear from last years new growth. So if all of last years new growth was pruned off then it would not product until next year. Ideally, you want to leave about 25 spurs of last years growth and prune those back to about 4 to 6 buds. From these buds you'll get your fruiting canes and each cane will produce two clusters of grapes.
If all else seems suspect then you may want to dig around of of those vines to see if it has root problems.
If they are "vinifera" vines they may have been planted on "Own Root" stock, that may be ok if you don't have any "Phylloxera" on your islands.

Cheers,
Mike
 

Handy Andy

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That is really strange that some have grapes and others do not. What is the varietal of the ones that do and the ones that don't?
It could be possible that the flowers were never pollinated? I assume you have bees where you are?
As far as replacing vines I'd say no for sure. Most vines live for decades short of any disease. There is one vine in the slovenia that is know to be over 400 years old. The Oldest Grapevine in the World Survived 400 Years of Turbulent History and Wars, but It Still Bears Fruit
It may be possible that it is a root disease but I'd look at the overall vine health first and ask these questions.
1. Does it have new growth on it?
2. Does the older parts of the vine look health, I.E. more brown than grey?
3. Was it improperly pruned? All grape clusters appear from last years new growth. So if all of last years new growth was pruned off then it would not product until next year. Ideally, you want to leave about 25 spurs of last years growth and prune those back to about 4 to 6 buds. From these buds you'll get your fruiting canes and each cane will produce two clusters of grapes.
If all else seems suspect then you may want to dig around of of those vines to see if it has root problems.
If they are "vinifera" vines they may have been planted on "Own Root" stock, that may be ok if you don't have any "Phylloxera" on your islands.

Cheers,
Mike
Thanks for the repsonse

Yes the vines have some new growth, but not much.
The older parts of the vine look just like the older vines that are bearing good fruit.
Improperly pruned maybe, the vines have new growth, spaced very close together, I pruned the new growth between the best stems leaving gaps of maybe 4 to 6 inches.

I will look up Phylloxera, and find out what it is
 

sour_grapes

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Thanks for the reply, does everyone use a brix/refractometer meter for testing grapes ?
Am I just as well of testing the must with a hydrometer when I have harvested the grapes, and then adjusting the sugar levels accordingly?

What is the best kit for testing Tartric Acid and PH?
I was holding off for an actual grape grower to chime in. A refractometer is certainly the most convenient tool for measuring before harvest. This will help you decide WHEN to harvest.

Once you harvest (and hence have substantial volume to work with), you are free to use a hydrometer. (You may need to sink a mesh strainer into the must to get free access to the liquid.) Yes, you can then plan appropriate sugar additions.

To measure pH, obviously you will need to buy a pH meter. They can be had for as little at ~$15, but you may wish to buy a nicer one. You can measure TA by using your pH meter and some sodium hydroxide solution with a standardized normality. Here is a reference to get you started: Testing the must for sugar content, PH, and TA | MoreWine
 

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