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Chef 09-27-2008 12:58 PM

Wine making time
Chef and I have been making beer, wine and soda for some time now. This year we decided to try to make wine the old fashion way (we have always used kits). So we gathered a few friends who enjoy wine and wine making and had a grape crushing party. We bought 13 cases of old vine zin and 5 cases cab. Well the press was taking to long and we had to start pressing and crushing with our hands (we started to press at 6pm in our driveway - opps its gets dark!!) We had the best time, lots of laughs and comments about 'I love Lucy"...and no we did not use our feet.

I now have a 92 gallon tub in the basement frementing the juice, skins and vines. In a few weeks we will press again and dispose of the solids. Hopefully we will be enjoying some great wine by the first of the year.

Who else makes wine....any tips or tricks???

james 09-27-2008 01:17 PM

Re: Wine making time
Hey Chef,

We used to own a micro vineyard in Healdsburg, and I've made a lot of wine. I found it pretty difficult compared with beer.

If I could add a couple of things it would be to keep everything really, really clean; take care measuring your sulfites and adding them according to the method you are following; and take care punching down the cap. If the top of the must ever gets dry during your bulk fermentation you will breed bad tasting bacteria. Leave it on the skins longer if you want color and tannin.

We ended up selling our grapes on contract to a good Pinot Noir winemaker, and he did some great things with it:

He ran the stemmer crusher really slowly, so that the grapes did not break. That promoted fermentation inside the whole grapes -- which burst under the pressure. He also made his wine completely on wild yeast on the grape skins -- which required hours and hours of massaging the must to distribute the less active wild yeast to effectively crowd out the bacteria.

Let us know how it goes. There's nothing like having your own wine throughout the year.

Chef 09-28-2008 06:22 AM

Re: Wine making time

We too are making the wine with wild yeast and no additives. Under the watchful eyes of my dad and his friend who have been making wine together for 35 years. Dads friend Vito is from Modena Italy and was doing this for many years before that; Vito is 76 years old so he is a fountain of information and wisdom on this subject. We are very careful to sterilize EVERYTHING that touches the grape, and we stir the grape at least twice a day and have the tub covered with a sheet.

Even with all that we are still nervous that this will be "drinkable" - if not all is not lost maybe we can make vinegar

Thanks for your tips as Vito told us what to do but you have filled in the “whys”.

james 09-28-2008 10:03 AM

Re: Wine making time
Are you adding sulfites to the wine? I think it is pretty difficult for us amateurs to to make a nice wine without it.

mfiore 09-28-2008 10:23 AM

Re: Wine making time

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 41715)

Dads friend Vito is from Modena Italy

Be careful. Modena is where the greatest vinegars in the world are made!:p

Chef 09-28-2008 10:27 AM

Re: Wine making time
no sulfites....we were going to but Vito and Dad said no. So we are doing it that way and praying this works. They have never added sulfites and never had a bad batch of wine, they also consume all they make with in a year (70 - 80 gallons)!! They have lots of friends who "help" them consume the wine!!!

james 09-28-2008 11:07 AM

Re: Wine making time
How about temperature. The old-fashioned good year/bad year for wine typically had as much to do with the temperature the two weeks after the harvest as it did with the weather during the growing season. A hot spell can turn a batch of fermenting must into something that tastes like prune juice. Is it hot?

Modern wineries have fixed that with temperature controlled fermentation tanks. European white wine has changed dramatically over the past 15-odd years. Like good bread, boutique wineries will seriously cool their grapes (cold soak) right after harvest to stunt bacteria development and give the wild yeast a long time to work on the grapes without developing off smells and tastes.

Bread, wine and better. They're all the same thing. :-)

Chef 09-28-2008 02:23 PM

Re: Wine making time

Originally Posted by mfiore (Post 41728)
Be careful. Modena is where the greatest vinegars in the world are made!:p

TOO funny I never put that together...but after 35 years of succesful wine makeing with my dad I hope we are not the first to end up with vinegar!!!

James we are keeping the basement at 70 for the 1st fermentaion and 65 for the 2nd.

james 09-28-2008 02:32 PM

Re: Wine making time

Originally Posted by Chef (Post 41735)
James we are keeping the basement at 70 for the 1st fermentaion and 65 for the 2nd.

Excellent. Cellar temperature. :-)

I can't wait to hear more. Sounds like a lot of fun.

Chef 10-03-2008 05:46 PM

Re: Wine making time
Well tomorrow at 9am the gang will gather in the basement for the second pressing Dad came over today and gave us the go ahead! When Chef Phil stirs the grape twice per day the smell of the grape/wine rises from the basement and up into the house. I swear when I'm down stairs I get drunk! So I think we are on our way to making real wine, not vinegar!!

Will take some photos tomorrow and post.


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