Friday, June 4, 2010

Fantastic Fermentations

The week since we got back from Washington & Oregon has been busy tending to my "children". In all I have ten batches of wines fermenting, all at various stages on their journey to blends and varietal bottlings that with some age should proved to be quite good.

I picked up grapes from Chile and frozen white grape juice from Lanza Vineyards and Sutter Ridge, all through M&M Wine Grape in Hartford, CT.

I also made a few changes this year with the addition of a yeast re-hydration agent and a gentler yeast nutrient to use along the way. Go-Ferm and Fermaid are products from Lallemand, a well known and trustworthy source of yeasts, enzymes and cultures. The equipment shop at M&M had these on hand.

Once the buckets warmed up from being frozen, on the count of me being out of town for a week the day after the grapes arrived :(, I tested them for pH, TA and Brix and decided not to make any adjustments based on other numbers and notes I had seen from folks using similar products.

Above is a picture of the top of one of the Malbec buckets. I have been punching the caps down on all the red wine buckets several times a day all week!

All the buckets had been sulfited before freezing so once I hit the mid 60's in temperature I had to be ready to pitch the yeast and keep an eye on them.

I also used Opti-Red and Opti-White this year. These are enzymes formulated for to sequester more of desired molecules in a grape must and either make them available to the fermentation or drop out of the process. Everything I had heard and read suggested this step as a big enhancement.  What you see to the left is the new Cab/Syrah blend in the picture on the left and five gallons of a jalapeno cooking wine that will be used to make drinks and sauces on the right. The other reds are a Cab, Syrah and a Malbec.

Rehydrating the yeast with Go-Ferm according to the very easy steps on the package resulted in a start and no problems since for every single bucket I pitched. Including the smaller buckets that makes 15 total!!

Last night the first batches of whites went from bucket to carboy. They are moving along nicely with pleasant aromas and some nice color. Before blending I will have two buckets of Chardonnay, one Sauvignon Blanc and one Viognier. I'm not sure what the configurations and bottle counts from the remaining will be just yet.

Overall I am very happy with the fruit, but not until the wines get a bit farther along will I really be able to say how wine made from it will be this year. With no fermentation troubles I am hopeful that I'll have lots of fun stuff to do.

You can see the orange color of the Viognier to the right, it is the second carboy from bottom. The image with the full carboys staring down their former containers was unintended, but it is pretty entertaining.

We started our first malo-lactic fermentation on a Chardonnay last night. Should be interesting to see how it comes out compared to the other batch that won't see MLF or oak.

Thank you to my wife for being crazy enough to let me do this, M&M Wine Grape for good products and services and WineMaker Mag for the conference and chance to meet some very nice and very helpful people.




Linda said...

Jason this is awesome. We make wine from kit at home, although nothing to this extent. I have always wanted us to try something from grape, I feel this is more of a true "making wine" experience rather then pouring it from a box into a bucket, then carboy. Looks fantastic!

Jason Phelps said...


what types of kits do you use? I got started that way too, about 5 years ago.

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

Your blog is fantastic! My husband is the wine expert in the family and I will forward it to him to read right away!

Magic of Spice said...

Great post, loved the read!

Anonymous said...

great stuff! reminds me of a roommate I once had...he was a slave driver when it came to "wine days" -- hardcore!

MA Winemaker said...

Looking good Jason!

zerrin said...

Thanks for this informative post! Wish I knew that much about wine.

The Manly Housewife said...


I'm telling ya your starting to inspire me to try some of this wine making myself. Where would you suggest to start?

The Manly Housewife

Jason Phelps said...

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. After 5-6 years of doing this I really feel like there is still so much to try and do. Drinking the hard work from a few years ago is inspiring when you are making the new batches. We enjoyed some 2009 hard cider on press day, June 5.

Gene Fiorot said...

Hi Jason
I really would like to see the sides of the bucket cleaned first then damp wiped with a bit of meta solution between punch downs. I am wondering if a Buttery Chard is your goal with the plan to MLF

Gene Fiorot