Winter Update 2015

47 days after the pressing, I racked all of the wine on 11-14-2015. I had been observing the bubbles on the air lock (evidence of malolactic acid fermentation) and they seemed to be there for a good month following the pressing. I wanted to do this one week prior, but I accidently purchased the wrong chemicals, not potassium metabisulfite. I went to the store and exchanged it and was able to do the racking on the 15th.

The process was simple, clean a barrel, sanitize it, then rack a full barrel into it leaving the dregs at the bottom. Repeat 5 times. I let the racking cane rest on the bottom, so it’s possible that I took some lees with the racking, but those will be cleaned up next time. Here is the racking plan, and the new barrel assignments:
4 —> 6 Free Run+
5 —> 4 Press Run
2 —> 5 Free Run
3 —> 2 Press Run
1 —> 3 Merlot

Since all were only 95% full, I had to top them up with the carboy of cab I had as well (even in the merlot). I racked the port carboy into another carboy and added a growler to top it off. I added ~1/2 a quart of grappa as well. I added about 50-60ppm SO2 to everything. I figured at this point, time is on my side, so I don’t need to worry about going a bit too high.

Currently, I have:
4 kegs of Cab
4 gallon of Cab in carboy.
2 growlers of Cab
1 keg of Merlot
1 6 gallon carboy of port
3 monkey head of port
So … 67 gallon of Cab, 15.5 gallon of Merlot, 6.75 gallon of Port, or 89.25 gallons total.

One new and cool thing I did this year was collect all the waste, stuff that went straight down the drain last year. Since I have no visibility into what I’m racking, it could be half a gallon, or three, I just don’t know. I poured the dregs of all of the kegs into one 6 gallon carboy and it fit nicely. It looked light purple and crappy and I almost just tossed it. But after a few days it settled with a very hard line showing about 40% sediment, and 60% good looking wine. It was turbulently poured and not fully topped off for a couple days, so it might have lost a little quality. I’m keeping it separate for the time being, but I might use it to top off later, or just bottle it separately. The bottom line is that I got about 3 free gallons of wine that I would have otherwise dumped.

Also, I bought bung stoppers, so I can ditch the airlocks (too easily knocked off, water evaporates, can’t tip kegs, etc). I put them on, and then burped them 3 hours later and they sprayed wine all over the walls. I guess the racking caused some of the CO2 to become unstable and escape after the racking. Also, it doesn’t take a lot of pressure to cause that to explode. Maybe wait a month or so before switching to those ….

That’s it for now, do some rackings in the coming months, add oak, monitor SO2 and that’s it ….

Update 4-10-16
I did a racking today in about 3 hours.  It was my first use of my new pump.  The pump was certainly helpful, but I’m worried it’s too rough on the wine.  I’m trying to run it at the lowest setting available.
3 —> 1 Merlot
2 —> 3 Press Run
4 —> 2 Press Run
5 —> 4 Free Run
6 —> 5 Free Run+

I poured all the excess into a single carboy.  It settled for a few weeks and there’s a good inch of white sediment at the bottom which was effectively removed from the 5 kegs.  I also blindly added about 40ppm of SO2 to everything, that should bring the levels up pretty high to 120ppm minus whatever’s been consumed.

Update 6-11-16
I did a third racking today in about 3 hours.  I used the pump again and everything went pretty well except I overflowed/geysered one of the kegs (don’t tell Leah).  I still have the worry about the pump being rough and over aerating the wine.  I collected the dregs in a 5 gallon carboy again and it’s much cleaner; there isn’t any apparent sediment in it meaning nothing notable dropped out of the wine in since the last racking two months ago.  I think the wine is clean enough to bottle now.  I also did an SO2 test, with a new set of titration chemicals, and found the SO2 levels are around my guess of a ceiling for the max I’ve previous added.  I guess time (and the pump) did little to dissipate the SO2 … good to know.  The levels are high, so I won’t be adding any more SO2 to this batch of wine.  Here is the transfer schedule and SO2 levels.
5 —> 6 Free Run+ 135ppm
4 —> 5 Free Run 120ppm
3 —> 4 Press Run 130ppm
2 —> 3 Press Run 130ppm
1 —> 2 Merlot 110ppm

Bottling is 2 months out, all that’s left to do is to figure out what to do regarding blending. Until next time ….

Update 8-11-16
Leah and I did a double blind taste test a few days ago with 100% cab, 100% merlot and an 80/20 blend.  We successfully guessed each of the three wines, and actually preferred the merlot, blend and cab, in that order.  Since there is relatively so little of the Merlot, we decided to fully blend the two wins this year for an 80/20 ratio.

The blending was a little harder than I thought.  I cleaned and sanitized the empty key (#1), and two carboys and racking canes.  Then, for each of the cab kegs, I took out 3 gallons and put that in #1.  I then took out five different 3 gallons from the merlot keg (#2) and put it in the other kegs.  The last pull out of the merlot keg was about 5 gallons, so my measuring, I guess, was off a little bit.  So the 80/20 ratios might not be perfect.  Also, the random 5gal carboy I have has already been mixed around enough, so I’m just going to assume it’s blended.  I took an SO2 reading on #6 and it was 120ppm, which is negligibly lower than the weighted average of the previous readings (it and 20% Merlot). This is still quite high, so I’m not worried about contamination, and won’t add any new SO2.  Here are the new kegs:
6 Free Run+
5 Free Run
1 Half Free / Half Press
4 Press Run
3 Press Run

End of Fall 2015 Activities Update

All activities mentioned in the previous update are successfully completed.  To recap, on 9/17, I got raw Merlot grapes (240 lbs) from Livermore which Leah and I subsequently destemmed and crushed with great effort.  And on 9/18, we got 1,000 pounds of Cabernet Sauvignon from El Dorado.  On the morning of the 23rd (day 5), I added some ethanol/brandy/grappa to about 80 pounds of the Cabernet to stop the fermentation process halfway, with the hope (fingers crossed) of making Port. The rest of the must fermented for 10 days, and then were pressed at around -1 Brix on 9-28.

Fermentation Graph

Fermentation Graph

I had better scheduling expectations this year, and was able to provide better notice for help.  Ben, Dasha, Shae, Colin, Brittany, as well as out of town guests Mike and Michelle helped Leah and I.  It was a ton of work like last year, but I think we knew what we were doing.  We started around 6:30 and were done around 10:30pm, and then Brittany and I cleaned up until midnight or so.  Special thanks to Brittany for helping clean up late (though she was sleeping over, so likely didn’t have too much of a choice).

One snafu to note.  My side project muscat grapes were a disaster.  I only had ~20 pounds, but accidently pressed the grapes into the sanitation solution rendering both of them useless.  I had to chuck it, which was unfortunate.

The final tally is that the yield was considerably more than last year.  I have 15.5g of Merlot, 68.5g of Cab, and 8.5 of Port.  Of course, 5-10% of that is going to be discarded in the form of lees, but I’m cautiously optimistic that each member will get slightly more wine this year!

I pitched malolactic bacteria at the 24 hour mark after pressing.  The airlocks have been percolating ever since, so I’m hopeful that this is working so I really have no way to tell.  Apparently, it should take 3-4 weeks to run through all the malolactic acid.  At that point, I’ll rack all the wine, discard the gross lees, dose with 50ppm SO2, and then leave them.  Subsequent to that, there will be oaking, and perhaps 2 more rackings down the line.  And since there are two varietals, there are blending options as well, though I will likely blend all the Cab and Merlot together.  But that’s it.  The hard part is certainly over, now it’s mostly just a waiting game.

Punching the cap this year was harder with more bins to do.  Worrying that last year’s effort, and 3 day absence, caused the Zin not extract enough goodies from the skins and thus be underly colored and tannic, I put more oomph into it this year.  I also tried to scrap the bottom once a day or so to ensure full rotation of the liquid around the vessel.  Time will tell if that mattered or not.

I was able to effectively separate the free run from the press run for the Cabernet (kegs #2 and #4 are currently free run Cab).  That should ultimately leave 31-41g worth of free run (depending on blending options).  Those that helped the most recently, will get first dibs.

The following are some internal notes, observations and experiences to help in future pursuits.  Read at your own peril.


9/17 – I went to the vineyard at 7am before work and picked up 240 pounds. I wanted 300, but settled on the lesser amount. The bins will filled to the top, and it was interesting that they settled another 30% down through the rest of the day.  Next time, fill higher than the lip of the bin. It was really a lot more work than I anticipated, and I was in the vineyard longer than I wanted too.  I paid $204 and was on my way.  The four, 17 gallon storage bins fit in my car reasonably well; I couldn’t do five, but I could have added a couple of buckets.

I brought all the bins up to the office at work to keep them cool (though it was cool outside), and then brought them down to my car when I left.  At home, I cleaned up a bit and started destemming.  I spent about 5 hours, and Leah pitched in 2, so 7 hours to get 240 pounds destemmed, yikes!  I strung some chicken wire on the surface of one of the bins, and rubbed the clusters on it and the grapes popped off.  Through the process I found that more and more clusters during the rubbing was best.  I got better at it, and at the end, I figure that I could do 100 pounds in 2 hours.  After the destemming, I crushed the grapes with my feet.  This was much easier (15 minutes?) and was really pretty fun.  I dosed the must with 50ppm SO2 and went to bed.  Long day.

9-18 I took a reading of the grapes and found the Brix to be 25.2, 3.7 pH, 7.8 g/L TA.  I split the 15g of BDX yeast and sprinkled it on top.  Brittany then helped and punched the cap down.

9-28 Pressed. Almost filled a keg, #1, topped it off with Cab. It’s likely ~95% Merlot.


9-18 Today was delivery day.  Leah reserved a truck which we picked up and drove to Oak Barrel.  I had previously given them my bins (3 big fermentors, 2 buckets, and 2 storage bins).  The extra capacity was key in decreasing the overall weight of any single container.  We put it in the truck and took it home.  Ben came over and brought a piano mover which was helpful.  We got the containers off the truck, and into the living room fairly easily.  Oak Barrel added the SO2, so that was it for that day.  The measurements are 24.5b, 3.22 pH, and .76 TA.

I consolidated some of the containers. I poured the storage bins into the big fermentors to save on space.  I then pitched the yeast, D80 (6g/100lbs), and did a punch down.

On day 5, I put ~40 pounds (~4g) each into two separate buckets.  The Brix was roughly half at 11 at the time.  I poured about .6 gallons of ethanol into each bucket.  This will raise the ABV significantly and effectively make the yeast ‘go to sleep’ and retain some desirable sweetness.  I was thinking I’d get 6.5g of output (5.3g of must, 1.2g of ethanol) which would yield 20% abv.  The final output was 8.5g implying the must part was actually 7.3g or so which means the current ABV is 18%.  I think when I weighed out the must, I unfairly took too many skins and not enough liquid.  As a result, I should add .3g more ethanol to the Port to get to my desired 20%.

9-28 Pressed. Got four 15.5 gal kegs, one 6 gal carboy, one growler (68.5 gal).  The Port created one 6 gal carboy, 3 growlers, 4 monkey heads (8.5 gal).


2015 Vintage – Fall Schedule

For all the returning wine club members, I hope that you enjoyed the last year in our inaugural Zinfandel Vintage.  I also hope that you are patiently waiting for your bottles to age though I’m sure you’ve had one or two by now.  But that is the past, and our attention shifts to the future, and the next vintage, Cabernet Sauvignon.

I have arranged the purchase of another 1,000 pounds to play with this year.  Since we just had a really big bottling party a few weeks ago, Leah and I are not going to have an official welcome party.  Instead, we’re going to request that some of you come over for some of the work days, which is more fun anyway. Feel free to bring a +1.  There’s a lot of work to do, and Leah and I can’t do it by ourselves.  I understand that some of you live farther away, so these are optional.  Please only come if you want to.  Here is the schedule for the coming weeks. Keep in mind the dates are subject to change based but should be accurate within a day or so.

9/17 (estimate) – Merlot Crushing and Destemming
Since we have a few new members, I’m trying to get some more grapes.  I’m dealing with the farmer directly, which is difficult, so this part may not happen.  I’ve found that Merlot is a very common blending partner of Cab, so I’m going to get about 300lbs of Merlot grapes to blend with later.  For the Cab, I’m paying a small fee to get them crushed and destemmed. But the Merlot vineyard I found is not providing that service.  Soooooo, I need to (a) crush the grapes and then (b) destem them.  I’ve never done this, so this is going to be a new adventure. We’re going to do the classic Foot Stomping method, hopefully better than her.  I’m looking forward to this one!  If you come to this one, please cut your toenails prior, and prepare to scrub your feet.  SWMBO is going to have very strict cleanliness requirements before your feet go in the grapes.

9/18 (final) – Cabernet Sauvignon Delivery
The grapes are scheduled to arrive on the 18th.  Last year I did this by myself, and it really really sucked.  My order had way too much weight in too few containers (300lbs in each fermentor).  So I have a few more smaller containers this year, and hope to move them back to our apartment a little easier.  Leah and I are going to rent a Zipvan and pick them up at after 6pm or so.  This is by far the least fun job, and I might enlist Ben’s help here, if he’s willing.

9/29 (estimate) – Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Pressing
This is an estimate, the primary fermentation took ~10 days last year, and we’ll see how long it takes this year.  It might move up or down a day or two.  At this point, all the juice will have turned to wine, and we need to press the wine out of the grape skins. This job is probably the most laborious, and fortunately the most fun.  I really need volunteers for this one.  I had a lot of help last year, and everybody had a great time.  I’m going to rent the press for the evening, and we’ll press it all until it’s done.


That’s it, that is the schedule of events for the Fall.  Again, the dates are variable, and I’ll update this as they become more defined.  Everything will start roughly after work, around 7pm or so and will go until the work gets done.  We’re looking forward to seeing you many of you at these events.  I need the most help on the final pressing.

Keep in mind these are optional; come to work, come to hang out, and only come if you want 🙂

Invitation to 2015 Vintage

Exalted and Distinguished Wine Club Members,

If you are reading this, congratulations, you are part of a very exclusive group invited to be members in the LS Wine Club for the 2015 vintage. The selection process was rigorous, with many people not making the cut. You really should be proud of yourself.

The initial plan is to do the same thing as last year. We have all the equipment from last year, so we really just need to get more grapes. We plan on getting another 1,000 pounds of crushed grapes (perhaps more if SWMBO will allow it) in late September. We will ferment them in vats, have a pressing party a week or so later, and have a similar bottling party a year later. All of this can be yours for the low cost of $100.

Please don’t take this decision lightly. Please only accept this invitation if the following apply to you:
– You plan on staying in the greater bay area for the next 12-15 months
– You have continued faith that Landon and Leah are good stewards of your wine
– You actually like the wine that has been made from the last vintage
– You enjoy attending the parties and gatherings throughout the year
– Your need interesting hobbies for your online dating profile

The pertinent question currently is what varietal to buy. To please most people, I’m limiting the option to red wine, and it has to be different from what we did in 2014 (Zinfandel). Beyond that, you get a vote. You can find the full list of available varietals from our wine source here:

Likely options include:
Syrah – Amador – $1.00/lbs
Cabernet Sauvignon – El Dorado – $0.95/lbs
Petite Sirah – Lodi – $0.95/lbs
Cabernet Franc – Lodi – $0.95/lbs
Malbec – Lodi – $0.95/lbs

Note that price went up about 5% from last year; we paid $0.90/lbs for the 2014 Zinfandel.  What do you want? What do you hate? Please make your vote known to Leah and I and we’ll pick the winner. Also, If you’re interested in doing more, and want to partner with me for a small batch of something different, I’d be very open to that. Do you have a grape source?

Please formally let Leah or I know if you would like to accept your invitation to the LS Wine Club for the 2015 vintage.

Looking forward to another successful year …..

Bottling Party 2015

Summertime is upon us, and fall approaches fast. As such, your wine club membership and patience are about to pay off in a big way. Leah and I will be hosting a bottling party at some point in the late summer or early fall. Your attendance is required, so we are giving ample notice, and considerable options. We are considering the following days:

August 8th – Saturday
August 9th – Sunday
August 15th – Saturday
August 16th – Sunday
August 22nd – Saturday
August 23rd – Sunday
August 29th – Saturday
August 30th – Sunday
September 12th – Saturday
September 13th – Sunday

Can you kindly let me know your date restrictions and preferences, and Leah and I will figure out the day that works best for all/most people. It would be great to let us know *all* the dates that work for you, so we can pick a date that works for everybody. A comment below, or emailing us directly would be great.

The party will likely be midday, starting perhaps at noon(?). You will be required to bring 24 empty bottles and something to transport them in. Two wine cases is a good idea. There will be four stations set up that you will move through: (a) rinse, (b) sanitize, (c) fill, (d) and cork. You should give your bottles a light rinse after you use them so that the sediment doesn’t dry on the bottom. We will be providing the corks. If you are a bart person, and carrying two full cases of wine on bart would be tough, you are welcome to leave it at our place and we will deliver them to you later (…mostly full). Let us know.

Again, it’s important that you attend. If everybody is there, and does their share of the work, I imagine this will all be very easy and smooth. There will be well over 300 bottles total to fill. If you have any questions or issues, please don’t hesitate to contact Leah or I.

Spring Update 2015

Spring Party
Thanks to everybody who attended the Spring Wine Club Party. I have posted some pics below from Brittany. Here are the results of the blind taste test:

American Oak Single – 2
American Oak Double – 3.8
French Oak Single – 4.2
French Oak Double – 5
No Oaking – 3
Charles Shaw – 3.8

Heavier French Oak seems to be the favorite, and, apparently 2 Buck Chuck is better than our currently un-oaked wine :-/

Based on your expensive taste for Double French Oak above, Leah and I picked up some French Oak and added it to all the kegs accordingly. We didn’t opt for a double batch; we’ll leave it like this and reevaluate in a couple months or so.

Leah and I recently racked all of the wine around with the hopes of removing fine lees at the bottom of the vessels. There was surprisingly little lees at the bottom of the kegs to remove. There was, however, a caked on film at the bottom which was removed with boiling water.

We also subsequently did a sulfite test to see how much SO2 had been consumed since the last measurement 3 months ago. The answer, not a lot! Here are the currently SO2 levels:

Keg 2 (old Keg 1) 32 ppm – added 10 ppm
Keg 4 (old Keg 3) 32 ppm – added 10 ppm
Keg 6 (old Keg 4) 28 ppm – added 10 ppm
Keg 1 (old Keg 5) 120 ppm – added nothing, too high already
carboy – 42ppm

Learnings / Personal Notes / Future Work
The minimal loss of SO2 over ~3 months is surprising. I thought that there would be substantially lower SO2 levels, and accordingly more SO2 to add. The kegs are very air tight, and the amount of head space per 15 gallon keg is probably a few fluid ounces. It is really a good setup for safety.

This does pose a problem with Keg 1 and it’s 120 ppm. I was hoping that that number would go down to ~40 by the time of bottling. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m going to have to blend that keg with others to get all of them to around 50-60ppm and then let them dissipate in the coming months before bottling. We hope to do that in a month or two.

I feel that the racking we did Sunday was a big failure. We had to lift the kegs up in order to siphon the wine around. In lifting them, we really disturbed the lees at the bottom so that when we got to the bottom, there was almost nothing visible there. It’s a lot of work to fully rack all of the wine, and we didn’t get much of a benefit. So, all future rackings will incorporate the following:
(1) The kegs will be lifted and left for over a day to let the lees settle. Siphoning off that keg will be done without moving the keg at all. This will hopefully help keep the good wine around, and get rid of the lees and sediment.
(2) Previously, the “bottoms” of the kegs (residual liquid at the bottom after the racking), were poured down the drain. From now on, we will keep the “bottoms” and put all of them into a carboy. That carboy will then contain all lees removed from that racking. After a day, the lees should settle and I can rack off the top of that again. This will decrease the amount of good wine lost.

Your Future Work – Bottle Collection
Leah and I are tentatively planning a bottling day in August or September on a weekend. This is the most important day of the year and we really need your attendance. There will be about 340 total bottles of wine to bottle, which we really can’t do for you. We will give ample time, and have individual talks with the group to best fit the group.

You will be responsible for bringing 24 empty bottles of wine. You *can* buy new ones; they aren’t expensive, but Leah and I will secretly judge you. As you save them, you should rinse them to prevent sediment from drying onto the bottom. You should also get something to carry them in; two cardboard wine cases would be perfect. My recommendation, buy a case of wine and use that, all the bottles will be a perfect height and fit nicely.

That’s all for now, stay tuned for info on being a part of the 2015 vintage of the LS Wine Club …..

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Winter Update

After the pressing in October, there really isn’t much to do except wait. We filled the various kegs and other vessels, and are just waiting for them to get more awesome. Leah has worked fervently preventing me from “sampling” the wine too much; what can I say, it’s really good! One thing that we did recently was to rack the gross lees. Basically, we siphoned all but the bottom inch or so of everything into another container. That left the “lees” (sediment and dead yeast) at the bottom which we just poured out. We lost about 5 gallons of liquid from this, wow! You can check out the dumping of the lees here.  We are now down to four 15.5 gallon kegs, one 5 gallon carboy, one half gallon beer growler, and four 1 liter bottles …. about 68 gallons left.

Another thing we’ve been doing is monitoring SO2 levels. We had some issues with this, having trouble using our ridiculously expensive machine. We got poor readings back in December, and, unfortunately, I put in waaaaaay too much sulfite into one of the kegs. I did another reading recently, which gave more reasonable results. I then topped off the sulfite levels accordingly to get to a target of 45ppm. Here are the readings:

Keg 1 22ppm – added 23ppm – did measurement afterwards to validate addition/measurement
Keg 3 20ppm – added ~20ppm
Keg 4 24ppm – added ~20ppm
Keg 5 120ppm – this was the one with really high levels, no sulfite was added, obviously, time should lower it, blending might be needed if it doesn’t come down enough
Carboy 20ppm – added ~20ppm

Additionally, we just bought some oak cubes (American and French, both Medium+ toast). We are going to do small sample tests for a month and see which one is better to apply to the entire batch.

Looking to the future, we’re tentatively planning another wine party mid to late March. We have some out of town folks, so I’m going to try to cater the date to their schedule. If Leah will allow it, we’ll be doing a tasting of the wine, so you know for yourself how it is turning out. Look for an email from us about that when the time gets closer.

Beyond that, we have bottling. When, exactly, is very unknown, it will be anywhere between May and September. Remember, you need to bring your own bottles, about 24 of them. So, depending on how long it takes for you to get 24 bottles, you might want to start collecting. I know some of you will get 24 bottles quicker than others 😉 You should rinse the bottles after you use them so they don’t get crusty inside, and I recommend taking the labels off.

Dumping of lees after racking – movie

Wine Tower

Oscar guards the Wine Tower 24 hours a day; she’s not a fan of having her picture taken either ….


Wine Pressing Success

It’s been a while since our last update, Leah and I have been very busy lately.  After 12 days of fermentation, it was time to press the wine on September 24th.  I gave very short notice to the group to come over to help, and was able to get a few over.  This was GREATLY appreciated.  Leah and I really couldn’t have done it without you.  I left work a tad early to go to the wine shop to pick up the press, and somehow managed to get it home in my car.  I whipped up a quick dinner and people started showing up.  For none of us having any experience, or knowing what to do, we quickly settled into a groove.  Colin helped siphon the free standing liquid into the kegs to give us less volume to press.  He simply separated the liquid from solids with a plastic colander (that eventually broke; next time we should use metal). We did not fill a single keg with all free run. We dispersed it throughout however maybe next year we should record this as it will change the taste from keg to keg. Under the keen supervision of Dasha, Ben did a great job of loading and operating the press while Dasha monitored the runoff and poured it into the kegs using a pitcher.  We ratchet down as far as we could. Each batch took about 30 minutes from load to unload. Leah and I bounced around and helped out where needed.  And Shae did an awesome job of watching the Giants game and napping afterwards (see below).  As any good winemaker would, we all tasted the fruits of our labor (pun intended). The wine tasted young, sweet, fruity, not very alcoholic, and grainy. Its pretty bright red as opposed to deep purple. We did about 6 loads in the press, and everybody left afterwards.  Leah and I stayed up quite a bit cleaning the press and other equipment until 1am, and I returned it the following morning.  We had a full trash can of discarded grape skins which were quite dry (1/3 the starting volume). That was a lot of work, we were sore for a couple days, and really appreciate the help.

The end result is that we have four 15.5 gallon kegs, two 5 gallon carboys, and a couple other smaller glass bottles … about 72 gallons!  I pitched a malolactic culture the subsequent day, and that’s about where we are today.  Since there was a variety of sizes the amount per was a little rough. I have made one error thus far, apparently I’ve put in too much SO2 into keg #4.  It’s a little chemically tasting now, but that will dissipate in the coming months.  I have a very nice machine to help me with doing SO2 titrations, but I just can’t get it give me the reading I want.  The next thing to do is to rack the gross lees off in a month, which basically means to siphon off all but the bottom inch or two of liquid and sediment, and discard that.  Most of the work is over at this point.  Patience is the only thing necessary now; every day the wine is getting better!

Movie #1

Movie #2


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Initial Notes

We got the grapes last Thursday and they were very …. very, heavy.  I struggled mightily to get them around the driveway, in the elevator, down the hall in finally into our guest room.  I paid the store $50 to deliver them to our place, which was money well spent. I don’t think I could have gotten these in a van/truck even with the help of another person.  I wanted to weigh them to make sure I got what I paid for, but there was really no use.  The store put in sulfite for me; and they said that the must was 25.43 brix, 3.49 ph, .82 ta.  I didn’t verify any of that; I’m taking their word for it.  Upon the stores recommendation, I got 60 grams of D254 yeast which will apparently be “jammy”.  I put 6g / 100lbs of must at the 24 hour mark to wait for the sulfites to do their thing.  I sprinkled it on, waited 30 minutes, and then punched it down.  On day 3, I put ~1oz of yeast nutrients on top of the must, and sprinkled the other 1oz at the 5 day mark.

The temperature of the guest room is generally staying around 65-72 degrees.  Leah and I are taking turns punching the cap, in the morning, immediately after work and right before we go to bed.  Every few times, I try to really rotate the solids so the same grape skins don’t just rise to the top again; I try to push them down, and then pull up new ones from the center.  The cap is very hot, up to 95 degrees before punching.  Also, the cap seems to rise, and be punched down, by a magnitude of 5-6 inches or so.

Leah and I will be out of town for days 8-10 for 60 hours or so, so we hope to get some help so that the cap is punched once every 24 hours or so.