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Yeast and other problems for newbie!

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Trigham

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hello everyone, I hope someone can help, I have a couple of issues, I put down two pails of 15 lbs of mixed berries,(Strawberries,Blueberries, Raspberries, and Blackberries) They smell soo good. I got a recipe from an old guy who makes amazing fruit wines. The problem is that I did my yeast packets in seperate bowls with 1/4 cup of warm water and a tablespoon of sugar for fifteen mins last night and added them to the must and covered them with plastic and their covers. Tonight I went in after 24 hours and nothing!! What did I do wrong or what should I do now. I will explain that I have only started to make wine this past november when I took 30 lbs of beautiful concord grapes off of a 25 yr old vine that came with this lovely bungalow I purchased. It is almost done now after 5 months of waiting and prepping. I did stir it daily in the beginning as well after the yeast application so I know what is supposed to happen with these two batches for my first delema. The problem with the concordes is that I didnt siphon off the must into a new carboy after I took it from the bucket to the carboy the first time.
The smell is beautiful and actually tastes pretty good but after switching carboys the sludge didnt all stay behind,( i know now i need to do this step twice before this now)but I added half a pint of grape concentrate and 1.5 cups of sugar to the must and mixed it well. It kind of has a vinagery taste if u know what I mean. How long will i have to wait before it is ready to bottle and can I strain or filter it before I bottle it. Im stuck please help!!:eek:
 

EJA

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First thing - do not panic :) It is possible that 24 hours is not enough time for visible results. With that said, most of the time that I hear about slow starting fermentation, the must temperature is too low. You should check to make sure that your temperature is 70 - 74 degrees F. Also, a high sugar must sometimes takes a while to get started, so it would be good to know your specific gravity. Also, did you add anything to the must prior to pitching the yeast? What was your recipie? Did it call for the addition of Campden Tablets or Potassium Metabisulfite (K-meta). Usually you need to wait around 12-24 hours to pitch the yeast if you added K-meta. In a recent post in another forum, someone accidently added potassium sorbate, a yeast inhibitor, to the initial must. If you think that everything was done correctly, then I would make a yeast starter. Check out Jack Kellar's website: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/yeast.asp.

As for your second issue, it is not that big a deal that you took the lees (thats the sludge at the bottom of the tank) with the must (the juice before it becomes wine) into secondary. You can get some off tastes, however, if you let a wine sit on the lees too long, especially red wines. Adding wine concentrate and sugar, to your young wine will cause it to referment, unless you add the above mentioned potassium sorbate. This is because the yeast is still alive and kicking, and just waiting for some more food (the sugar). The vinegary taste is a concern, however, because it may mean a bacterial infection of some kind - or it could mean the wine is just too young. Assuming the wine is OK, then you need to make sure it is perfectly clear before bottling. As you know, you will need to rack a few times to get to this stage. Straining wine will not help with the clearing. Filtering will, but that means with wine grade filters and usually a pump. Gravity will also clear, but that means time, and since you added more sugar, you will get more sediment from the restarted fermentation. Once that is done, and assuming you haven't gone to vinegar, you can add a fining agent (helps to clear the wine) One other problem you may encounter is oxidation, so make sure you keep your carboy topped up to about 2 inches below the bung to reduce airspace, and add 1/4 teaspoon of K-Meta every second racking or so. K-Meta acts as a preservative and anti-oxidant. If your wine has a bacterial infection, there may not be much you can do. I haven't encountered that situation, but perhaps someone else can offer advice.
 

Luc

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A few questions arise here:

You put the yeast in a cup of warm water. How warm was it. Couldn't it be
too hot for the yeast......

Second you put the yeast in a cup of warm water with a tablespoon of sugar. Why the sugar ??? Sugar is a great conserving material. So if there is to much sugar in a must, the yeast will stop because of dehydration (sugar will 'bind' with the fluids in the yeast), so the yeast will shut themselves off.

So if you are lucky the yeast are recovering from 2 shocks. If you are unlucky the yeast just may never start working again.

I hope you have used sulphite in your must, the must will then be safe for a few days, but make as fast as possible a new yeast starter and add that to the must.

Considering the concord. All yeast will produce a very small bit of vinager during the fermentation process. But this will normally not be an issue, the amount is so small that you would not notice it. Now if fruit flies have been at the wine, vinager bactery will spoil the wine and there is nothing (as far as I know) you can do about it. I would certainly suggest to rack the concord of the lees. Measure the alcohol if possible (vinager bactery can not survive in alcohol percentages of 12% up). And add some sulphite if not done so already. Then wait a while and examine if the vinager taste will disappear.

Luc
 

Trigham

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Woohoo!

Thanks guys I started a new yeast package directly over the must and it worked the past two days the yeast started to work and sizzle. I am stirring daily. The SG was about 1050 when I checked it and the temp was about 75 Degrees. all things seem to be a go now so in a week or so or when the first reaction stops I will rack them to a glass carboy and sit them for a month before reracking is that right? My concords are not filled all the way up the neck of the carboy it is about 5 or 6 inches below the plug should I just leave it nor do I add water to bring it up to 2 inches below the plug , remember I already added the concentrate and in the final step.:eek:
 

Sacalait

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You can add water to bring it up (if you don't mind it a little bit diluted) or you could add barbles to achieve the results you want.
 

smurfe

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You can add water to bring it up (if you don't mind it a little bit diluted) or you could add barbles to achieve the results you want.
Did you mean MARBLES? I was going to edit your post for you but I thought, maybe there is something out there called BARBLES that I don't know about.

Smurfe :)
 

Trigham

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:confused: Marbles or barbles??? to bring the level up?
 

smurfe

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:confused: Marbles or barbles??? to bring the level up?
He was referring to bring the level of the liquid in the carboy up without having to add water. You can sanitize marbles and drop them in the carboy. It will raise the level of the liquid so you can minimize head space and reduce the surface area exposed to oxygen and reduce oxidation potentials.

Smurfe :)
 
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Trigham

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Thank you so much , I was just makiung sure cause it is my first ever batch from scratch as well as my very first time making it , so I am cautious I really wnt this to work and have been boasting for 6 months lol:D
 

Trigham

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Update for fresh fruit newbie

:) Hi guys ,
I just strained my two batches of mixed fruit(BLUE, BLACK,STRAW &RASPBERRIES) the yeast subsided and I have now rung the crap out of the berry remnants in a mesh bad and squeezed them to about the size of a softball or larger grapefruit. I racked them into two carboys one 24 liter and the other a 20 liter, I brought the liquid up to about two inches from the neck of the carboy and the other I will need to add some marbles when I get some.
The color is bright red or very deep burgandy not like the concordes (deep Purple color) have racking now(its also been about three weeks since i reracked it and it is starting to smell a lot better and actually getting closser to a nice tasting wine keep your fingers crossed for me). :D

I added the topper with water in them and wrapped them in a blanket to keep them warm, The first question I have is that when I took the SG it is 110 for both. I thought it was supposed to be about 130 and I was suposed to rerack in about three months when the sg went down to 110. It is there now unless I did something stupid? The juice tatses awesome and u can smell the alcohol content, its really quite nice. Is the sg supposed to be this low already?? and what temp should i try to keep the carboys at for the next three months?:confused:
Thanks again for all yoru help in advance!!
 

Sacalait

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Glad to hear it's going well. First, go easy on wringing the must through the nylon bag. If you get too agressive in doing this you may get more sludge sediment in the bottom of the carboy than you want to deal with. The prefered way is to let it drip out as much as possible then gently squeeze the bag to get some of the remaining juice.

I think you ment an SG of 1.010 and 1.030 respectively. Ideally, racking to a carboy at the 1.030 reading would have been ideal but don't fret over it, you'll be just fine. Try to keep the temp. 70-75F. A slow ferment is what you're looking for, too warm and it'll ferment quicker than desired. With the SG at 1.010 at the transfer you shouldn't have long to wait before it's complete at SG .992. Keep the air lock on and monitor the bubbles in the air lock then when it has completely stopped (a month or so) check the SG, it should be around .994-.992. Now it's just a waiting game letting the sediment fall out and the wine clear (3mo) then rack off the sludge and into a clean carboy to wait until it's cleared even more and that's it.
 

Trigham

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Your right about the sg numbers,:D phew good news, it started to settle a little over night but still hasnt really been bubbling in the topper yet I guess maybe a little rest will get this going again will it? :confused: what a great tasting must it is. I think i lost some temp but have it in a warmer spot now , I hope this brings it back to about 70-75degrees is that right?
thanks again
 

Sacalait

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If it won't start fermenting in the 70-75F range try to get it up to around 80F and once it gets going you can bring it back down. If it doesn't get started once the temp. is brought up (say 4-5days) you may end up with a stuck ferment. I won't get into that now unless it happens. Good luck and keep us informed of your progress.
 

Trigham

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stuck ferment???:eek: jesus sounds like my wife lol, how do u suggest I get the temp back up if i may ask?Any hints or quik methods I should try.:confused:
 

Sacalait

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A heating pad or blanket wrapped around the carboy works fine.
 

Trigham

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Thank you, I found a wire carboy heater you plug in , kind of like a belt for the carboy, it seems to be raising the temp a little on one and I actually saw two pops in the topper, so the temp is hopefully making this work again. Then ill move it to the second carboy to raise the temp in it, I moved teh second one closer to my wood heater while i wait for the heat belt to do its thing on the first carboy. Pray for me !:D I will keep you informed and again much thanks!!
 

Trigham

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Starting to worry some!! The temp is up on both carboys and still no action, im not sure what is going on, am I too impatient or will it take some time to start its bubbling again. Can I heat it too much at this stage?
Thanks again and sorry to be a pain!:(
 

Sacalait

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Yes you can heat it too much. I wouldn't let it get much over 85F as that temp is adequet to get ir started but beyond that and you could be headed for trouble. Be patient and give it a couple of days. If still nothing after that we'll talk about restarting a stuck ferment.
 

Trigham

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ok temps are up one to 80, the other to a little over 85 i stopped the heating process for now and willwait it out a day or two . I will keep u informed.Thanks much
 

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