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Bottling Wine at a Small Winery

- May 1, 2014

Bottling Wine at a Small Winery

Recently I volunteered at two different Colorado wineries to give them a hand bottling wine. It was a great experience and one that I learned a lot from. While I did expect the two different wineries to have different bottling procedures I was struck by just how different they were. On the one hand was a simple, no frills bottling process much like any amateur wine maker does on their own. On the other hand was a more complex process that required some specialized equipment. Here is a synopsis of each bottling process. A Simple Bottling Line At Winery A they employed a simple and straight forward bottling process. The wine was pumped from the tank through a filter with an impeller pump into the bottle filler. The filler had an six bottle capacity. Empty bottles were taken from their cases and put onto the bottle filler. Once full the bottles were removed and set down where the person running the corker could reach the bottles. The corker was responsible for ensuring that the bottle was filled to the appropriate level. Not too much and not less than what’s supposed to be in the bottle. Wineries can get into legal trouble if this is off on a consistent basis. If the bottle was filled to the correct level they inserted it into a mechanical corker. By pressing a pedal on the floor the corker was set in motion. It would push the cork in by force and then load up a cork for the next bottle. The entire operation took only 1 to 2 seconds to complete. After the corks were inserted the full bottles were placed back into cardboard cases. As the cases filled up they were stacked in a specific way to ensure that they did not fall over when the pallet was moved. This process is very much like the amateur wine maker’s set up. Instead of a pump often times we’ll use a siphon and we’ll also use a bottle filler that handles one bottle at a time instead of six. Our corkers are also mechanical but not quite as automated.     A More Complex Bottling Line Winery B’s process was a bit more involved. First the wine was pumped from the tank to the bottle filler using a double diaphragm pump. These pumps offer much more control over the flow rate of the wine and require an air compressor in order to function. The wine fed into a reservoir on the top of the bottle filler which also had the capacity to fill eight bottles at a time. In addition to wine in the reservoir there was a gas line that delivered nitrogen. The nitrogen exited the gas line below the surface of the wine so there was a constant bubbling noise coming from filler. With the reservoir cover securely in place the nitrogen served two purposes. Most importantly it protected the wine from oxygen exposure as nitrogen was undoubtedly flowing out of the reservoir. At the same time the bubbling action of the nitrogen in the wine can help degas the wine so if there was any carbon dioxide left in suspension as we were going to bottle the nitrogen would help remove it. The bottles we were filling were removed from...

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Racking Your Wine – WMA010

- Apr 25, 2014

Racking Your Wine – WMA010

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma010.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSRacking Your Wine Racking is simply the process of moving wine from one container to another. There are several different ways you can accomplish this, each of which requires different equipment. In this episode we explore four different ways to rack and the equipment involved. In addition to the nuts and bolts of racking you’ll also learn about why we rack and how to gauge when to rack. Understanding how and when to rack is a key part of making quality wine. Waiting too long to rack or doing it too often can have a negative impact on your finished wine. Questions Answered How long can you keep the wine or age a wine kit? What are the disadvantages of drinking a wine early to make room for my next wine? What are the disadvantages of using beer caps to seal up my wine? Is it ok to store 3-3.5 gallons of wine in a 5 gallon carboy? My carboy bungs popped out. What can cause this? Articles Mentioned in this Episode Blackberry Port Recipe David’s Website Extended Maceration Sur Lie Aging Video on Using a Racking Cane and Tube Wine Making Products Mentioned Racking Cane & Tube Auto Siphon Spigot Impeller Pump Diaphragm Pump (requires air compressor & a regulator) Private Preserve 3 Gallon Carboys: Glass &...

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David’s Blackberry Port

- Apr 16, 2014

David’s Blackberry Port

This Blackberry Port recipe was written and contributed by David Knoll. Where I live in Oregon, Blackberries grow as weeds. In July when Blackberries are ripe, I can walk across the road to my neighbor’s property and pick 5 gallons of Blackberries along his pasture in about 2 hrs. They are big and juicy. Blackberry Port was one of my first wines I ever made because of the abundance of available free fruit. If blackberries are not available where you live, growing wild, you can purchase frozen blackberries at the store. I usually make 6 gal. at a time, but will give the recipe for 1 gal. Things you will need: 15 lbs of blackberries (6.8 kg) 3 lbs of sugar (0.9 kg) ½ tsp Pectic Enzyme 1 tsp yeast Nutrient 1 pkg Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast 1 campden tablet After the wine is finished you’ll also need: Potassium sorbate sugar to taste brandy Making Blackberry Port Fermentation Start by taking frozen blackberries out of their package and placing them in your primary fermenter or food grade bucket to unthaw. Usually takes 24 hrs. When the blackberries are unfrozen stir in 1 tsp of pectic enzyme per gal and yeast nutrient. Place a loose cover or cloth over the fermenter top. I do not add acid blend, because I don’t add water to my blackberries. Undiluted they have enough acid in them already. Take yeast out of its packet and place it in ¼ cup of warm water for ½ hr to bloom. Gently pour yeast over your blackberry must. Then replace a loose cover. Within 24 hours you should have an active fermentation. Stir in yeast. As your must pushes up a cap each day punch it down and mix liquid with solids twice a day. Fermentation should last 7-10 days. After about 1 week you will notice a slowing of the cap build up each day. When you can easily mix the solids with the liquid without any effort, it is time to separate the liquids from the pulp and seeds. Pour off the free run liquid from the solids and place in a sanitized bucket. Place the pulp in a press bag and squeeze out all liquids into your bucket. Secondary Fermentation Put all the liquids in a carboy or glass container about ⅘ full and put a sanitized air lock on the top. You will probably notice a small amount of burping as the last of the fermentation takes place. This may take as long as a month. At this point it is easy to get a liquid sample to test with your triple scale hydrometer. We are looking for a reading of 1.000 that indicates all sugar is gone. Once the sugar is gone and the yeast has nothing to eat, it will slowly die. The best indication that this is happening is that lees (sediment) will form a pink layer in the bottom of your carboys. And the liquid above will turn dark black. Rack off all clear dark liquid into a clean carboy, while leaving the sediment at the bottom. Discard the sediment and rinse out the carboy. At this point you need to top off your glass container. Since we have never added water, if the air space is not...

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How to Control Your Wine Fermentation Temperature – WMA009

- Apr 9, 2014

How to Control Your Wine Fermentation Temperature – WMA009

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma009.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSControlling Your Wine Fermentation Temperatures The temperature of your wine fermentation plays a big rol in how your final product will turn out. If it gets too hot or too cold things you can end up with flavor issues, or worse, a stuck fermentation. In this podcast you’ll discover a few different ways of heating and cooling a fermenting wine to ensure that you maintain the proper temperature. There are simple and inexpensive methods and then, of course, there are most costly methods that can sometimes offer better temperature control. Listener Questions Here is the lineup of listener questions addressed in this show: How do you use inert gases to sparge a carboy? I accidentally added too much potassium metabisulfite. What do I do now? How many days do you keep the grape skins on the must during fermentation? Can oak cubes or spirals be used more than once? I won’t be home to rack my wine to the secondary fermenter. Is this a problem? Resources and Products Mentioned The following articles and products were mentioned throughout the podcast. Brew Belt Carboy insulative wrap Johnson Digital Temperature Controller (for freezers and refrigerators) Glycol chillers Chilling coil* Private Preserve inert gasses Potassium Metabisulfite Calculator Oak Products Explained Winemaker’s Answer Book by Alison Crowe *DO NOT use copper coils as the pH of wine is strong enough to cause more copper to disburse into your wine which can become a health...

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Oak Products Explained

- Apr 3, 2014

Oak Products Explained

Oak has long been used to add flavor and complexity to wine. In addition to barrels there are a number of oak products on the market you can use to make wine with instead of having to deal with the expense and upkeep of a barrel. Before we get into the oak products let’s talk a little bit about the various aspects of oak and what it can do for you. You may also be interested in reading How Oak Affects Wine. That article goes into how oak from different places in the world impart different nuances to your wine. Flavors From Oak The following are some of the more prominent flavors you can get from using oak: vanilla caramel coffee oak spices smoky / campfire In addition to the flavors listed above oak also adds tannins to the wine. There are a two things that can greatly impact the flavor that oak imparts on your wine. These are the age of the oak itself as well as the toast of the oak. Oak Age Before the oak goes into a barrel or other oak product it is aged. They stack the oak outdoors and let it sit anywhere from several months to three years or so. The longer it sits the higher the quality, however, the cost goes up too. The gold standard for barrels is oak that has been weathered for 36 months. During its time outdoors the oak dries out Toast When barrels are made the oak staves are arranged around a flame that heats and “toasts” the wood. This process carmelizes sugars naturally present in the wood. The toast of the oak can range from barely being visible to being completely charred. The most common toast levels are light, medium, medium plus, and heavy. Lightly toasted oak retains much of the “woody” type flavor. Often a light toast will impart more tannins and green wood flavors. A heavy toast is the most drastic toast you can put on oak. It results in a smoky flavor. One of my favorite Zinfandels has a stronger smoky taste that makes it seem like you’re drinking your wine in front of a campfire. While I can’t confirm they use a heavy toast I would presume it is. Medium plus is somewhere between medium and heavy toasts. This is the darkest toast most wineries use, at least from what I’ve seen. Oak Products There are several diffent types of oak products you can use to impart these flavors on your wine. Dust Basically this is toasted oak that has been made into sawdust. The particles are very small which means the surface area of oak is maximized. This oak product is what is most commonly included with wine making kits. Because the particles are so small they impart flavor quickly. If you were looking for a boost of oak flavor before bottling you could add oak dust and within a week or so it will have imparted just about everything it has to offer. When you first add the dust it will float. Over time and as it interacts with your wine it will sink to the bottom. Once it has settled out it is no longer adding anything to your wine. In order to remove the oak you must...

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Scaling Up Your Wine Making Production – WMA008

- Mar 27, 2014

Scaling Up Your Wine Making Production – WMA008

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma008.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSScaling Up Your Wine Making Production Making more wine is something most all wine makers seek to do at some point or another. Sure it’s fun to make five or six gallons here or there but there is a certain allure to producing a 50 or 100 gallon batch. Whether you just want to produce more wine or you’re looking to grow into a full scale winery the issues surrounding growth are pretty similar. In this episode you’ll learn about some of the basic concerns when moving from kits to frozen must then moving on to working with fresh fruit. One of the biggest concerns is finding the right sized fermentation tank. There are several types on the market (some of which are listed below) and each have their benefits and draw backs. Beyond fermentation and storage capacity there are heating and cooling issues that can arise with larger volues, as well as how you will rack the wine. It’s not easy to move large tanks full of wine, nor is it advisable. Listen to the episode by clicking play above to find out more. Listener Questions Here’s the list of terrific listener questions addressed in this podcast episode. Can I pasteurizing fruit instead of using potassium metabisulfite? My wine did’t foam at all when I degassed it. Is it okay? My wine is in the garage now should I move it to a refrigerator when it warms up? How can I get more flavor out of the grape? The following products and resources were also mentioned in this podcast episode: Brehm Vineyards Frozen Wine Making Must Skip’s article on frozen must Speidel Variable Volume Stainless Steel Tanks Speidel Large Scale Plastic Fermenters Winemaker’s Answer Book by Alison Crowe How to Hydrate Yeast MoreWinemaking.com Manuals Yeast Resources Yeast & Grape Pairing Guide Choosing the Right Wine Making Yeast Selecting a Wine Making Yeast (podcast episode) The Great Riesling Yeast Experiment: part I, part II, part III, the tasting Do you have questions you’d like answered on the show? Contact me. Photograph by: Jim...

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How Terroir Affects Wine Making

- Mar 19, 2014

How Terroir Affects Wine Making

What is Terroir? Terroir is a French term (pronounced terwah) and translates literally as “land” or “local” depending upon who you ask. In the world of wine though it takes on a far more complex meaning. One that is difficult to fully describe or even just wrap your mind around. The simplest definition I can find is “a sense of place”. Meaning that if a wine is said to be showing it’s terroir it is displaying characteristics of the specific locale the grapes were grown. What makes this so difficult is separating out the differences between two Chardonnays that are due to terroir versus differences caused by different wine making process. To get a better idea of what this terroir concept is all about let’s take a look at some of the factors that affect a wines terroir. The following list is by no means complete, it’ll just give us a good place to start from. Factors That Affect Terroir vineyard slope slope direction soil conditions nutrients in the soil (minerals) climate (singular weather events are not considered terroir) neighboring plants microclimates (pockets of cool air for example) use of wild yeast instead of inoculated yeast fermentation temperature proximity to mountains or bodies of water Winemakers can play with the following things to emphasize or mask the effects of terroir: pruning irrigation time of harvest oak (exposure time, type of oak, toast of oak, age of staves at the time the barrel was made, how many years the barrel has been used) It takes some trial and error to determine what sort of terroir a given vineyard has to offer and more time still to figure out how best to showcase it through the manipulation of the factors listed above. Minerality, for example, may come shining through the finished wine if the correct yeast is used. More on this later. The effects of a good slope are more difficult to understand or pinpoint as a contributing factor to a wine’s character. Tiny nuances in any of the factors that affect terroir can change the character of the finished wine. Because of this certain terroir areas can be very small. In fact some winemakers believe that the terroir in one specific spot will produce a wine of a given character and a patch just ten or twelve feet away will produce an entirely different character even if the same varietal occupies both areas. Largely it is believed that terroir is most influential in France. However, after listening to many hours worth of interviews with wine makers, I am discovering that many California winemakers know of areas that produce specific characteristics which can be attributed to terroir. How do they know? Well, a small producer will harvest their vineyard in lots and process the wine as they go. If one 500 gallon tank came from lot 2 and the next 500 gallon tank came from lot 3 and the two taste differently after fermentation it is likely terroir. This is true, of course, only if all other variables are held constant (such as yeast strain used, fermentation temperature, etc). The Trouble with Terroir The fact is that differences in a wine due to terroir are hard for most people to detect. With practice and concentration experienced tasters may be able to...

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Cleaning and Sanitizing Wine Making Equipment – WMA007

- Mar 13, 2014

Cleaning and Sanitizing Wine Making Equipment – WMA007

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma007.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSCleaning and Sanitizing Wine Making Equipment One of the most important and time consuming parts of the wine making process is cleaning and sanitizing. While it seems pretty straight forward at first there are some technical aspects that are important to understand so that you can be sure you’re properly preparing your equipment. In this episode of Winemaker’s Academy we’ll take a look at exactly what’s entailed with cleaning and sanitizing separately. Also, we’ll dispel some of the confusion that occurs when the term sterilizing is used instead of sanitizing. Wine Making Questions There are also some great listener and reader questions covering a wine array of tipics. Here’s a list of the specific questions addressed in this show: What temperature should my finished wine be stored at? What is an acceptable amount of lees to transfer when racking? None? How long after bottling should I wait to open my wine? How long does sanitized equipment stay sanitized? Can I dissolve my potassium metabisulfite in wine instead of water? I think I overheated my fermenting wine. What do I do now? Also Mentioned The following products and articles were mentioned in this episode of the podcast: Potassium Metabisulfite Powder(affiliate) Star San Commercial Sanitizer(affiliate) How to Restart a Stuck Fermentation Bottle Trees(affiliate) More information on cleaning and sanitizing. Top Photo By: Tim...

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Blending Wine With Pearson’s Square

- Mar 5, 2014

Blending Wine With Pearson’s Square

Blending wine to adjust wine chemistry can be a little tricky. Luckily there’s a handy tool you can use, Pearson’s Square, for determining the proper proportions needed to create the right balance in your final wine. This tool can be used for blending a wine of high alcohol and one of low alcohol content to produce a wine with a more reasonable alcohol level. It doesn’t end with alcohol though, Pearson’s Square can be used to: blend wines of different acidity to create a more balanced wine blend wines of different degrees of sweetness calculate sugar additions to increase a finished wine’s alcohol content blend wine and brandy when fortifying a wine So how does this magical tool work? Let’s find out. Calculating Blend Ratios Pearson’s Square is actually a simple tool for calculating the ratios of two different wines that when mixed together result in a mixture that has the characteristics you desire. If we have two wines of different alcohol levels we can use the square to determine how much of each wine to mix together to come up with a blend that has an alcohol level of our choosing. Here’s what Pearson’s Square looks like: The variable “A” represents the alcohol content of one of your blending wines while “B” represents the alcohol content of the other.  “C” represents your target alcohol level. Keep in mind that you can use this for more than just blending wines of different alcohol levels. With this information you can calculate “D” which is the amount of wine “A” that you need. “E” represents the amount of wine “B” you need. When combined in these amounts you will have a wine with the desired alcohol level “C”. This has been sort of abstract so let’s try and example. Using the Pearson Square to Blend Wines Here’s an example of how this works. Let’s say we’ve got a 15% ABV wine and a 10% ABV wine. Our goal is to blend these two wines together to produce 6 gallons of wine that has an alcohol content of 13.5%. Here’s how it lays out in the Pearson Square. The vertical lines “||” are the symbol for absolute value in case your algebra is rusty. So even though B – C is a negative number take it as positive for the purposes of this calculation. You may have noticed that the units for D and E are labeled as “parts”. Mixing 3.5 parts of wine A with 1.5 parts of wine B will result in a final alcohol content of 13.5%. To get these quantities into units of measurement that are actually useful we can calculate the percentage of each as follows: Just to be sure we did this correctly we can add the volume of wines A and B together and we get a total of 6 gallons. Hooray! Please note that Pearson’s Square and the equations presented here are not specific to the English system of units. You may use liters, tons, tonnes, barrels, teaspoons, etc. You can also use this tool in a slightly different way. For example, if you have six gallons of Merlot with a titratable acidity (TA) of 6.5 and you want to know how much Syrah to mix with it to bring your titratable acidity to...

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All About Potassium Metabisulfite – WMA006

- Feb 26, 2014

All About Potassium Metabisulfite – WMA006

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma006.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSAll About Potassium Metabisulfite Potassium metabisulfite is a complex additive. In this episode of the podcast I break down how it functions, what the difference is between potassium metabisulfite and sodium metabisulfite, as well as the difference between free and total sulfites (which come from potassium metabisulfite). It’s an important topic for many wine makers and consumers alike. One that deserves our attention to fully understand how best to work with it so that we can create the best possible wines. Adding to the complexity of it all are the many names by which it goes. You’ll see wine makers refering to potassium metabisulfite as PM, k-meta (the k stands for potassium on the periodic table of elements), and campden tablets. Winemaking Questions Here are all the questions addressed in this podcast. Listen using the player above to hear the answers. What temperature do I keep my wine at after fermentation? Can I degas my wine a second time if I didn’t get all the gas out the first time? Do you have to clean or wash grapes prior to crushing them? How long should I age a strawberry dessert wine? How long should I cold stabilize my wine for? Is there a difference between adding sugar at bottling vs during fermentation? Below are the resources mentioned in the show: Submit a recipe to be published at Winemaker’s Academy. Calculating Potassium Metabisulfite Additions Crushing and Destemming Grapes Photograph by: (WT-shared)...

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