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The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 7 – Grape Yield

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What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank? 

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

When it comes to making wine, often there is nothing more exhilarating than sampling the fresh grapes as they come in and selecting the varietals that will best suit your individual winemaking needs. Once you have selected the varietals that you would like to make that season, the most often the next question is “How many grapes will I need to make my desired amount of wine?”. The answer changes slightly depending on the origin of the grapes. South American producers fill their crates with 18lbs of grapes. This typically requires the winemaker to purchase 4 crates (18lbs each) to yield 5 gallons of wine. The same formula roughly applies to South African grapes as well, with their grapes being packed 20lbs per crate. Obviously this will yield the winemaker a bit more juice, but the overall formula is applicable.

Fall harvest from the northern hemisphere gives us slightly different guidelines to follow for estimating yield. North American producers have larger crates, packed 36lbs/crate. On average, each crate yields 2.5 gallons of juice, the winemaker needing two crates per five gallons of desired wine. Seasonal growing conditions apply to the yield as well, rainfall having the most profound effect upon juice yield. Also, premium growing areas where the grapevines grow under stressed conditions, resulting in premium fruit will yield significantly less juice than grapes grown in irrigated fields. We suggest purchasing one additional crate per desired 5 gallons of finished product. The two crates per five gallon rule is a safe assumption when estimating juice yield, as it is more of a conservative estimate of juice yield. We often hear reports of a higher yield rate for certain west coast varietals. Berry size will affect the yield of juice as well. Pinot Noir and Grenache berries are significantly larger than Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Syrah berries, often yielding up to 10% more juice. While a certain level of experience and research can aid in the estimated juice yield from your grapes, the basic rule of 4 crates per 5 gallons for South American/African produce and 2 crates per 5 gallons for North American produce is an easy means of determining how much produce you will need.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com. 

Spring has Sprung – Musto’s Southern Hemisphere Wine Grape & Juice Harvest Update

Hello Winemakers and Welcome to Your Spring Winemaking Update…..

Farmers hands with cluster of grapes, farming and winemaking concept

As the snow melts on the East Coast the Southern Hemisphere is getting into harvest mode. The Spring grapes and juices will be here before you know it! Below we have a mini harvest update for each region outlining all the fresh products offered by Musto Wine Grape Co. this Spring. We’ve also included some yeast suggestions for the more popular varieties.

The prices for the Spring products are here and we are Taking Pre-Orders via email and over the phone. Please feel free to contact us at sales@juicegrape.com or 877.812.1137 to place your pre-order.

We are looking forward to working with you this Spring Harvest! Keep an eye on our Facebook Page  and Harvest Tracker for upcoming FREE Wine Classes and other Spring Harvest Updates.

South Africa
Breede river Valley (2)Arriving: End of March

Grape Varieties: Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon

Juice Varieties: Shiraz, Merlot, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc

Vineyard Information: Pinotage will be arriving from the Breede River Valley and Cabernet will be arriving from Stellenbosch. Read more about the Pinotage here, and click here for more information about the Cabernet

Yeast Suggestions:

  • Pinotage: BM4x4: A very reliable yeast. It helps increase color and palate length or D80: Increases mouthfeel and tannin integration
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: D254: Brings out bright fruit flavors and complexity such as berry, plum, and mild spice.

Argentina
malbec vineyard_18 brixArriving: End of April

Grape Varieties: Malbec

Vineyard Information: The first Cantinian vineyard was planted in 1923 in Mendoza, Argentina. As of 2012, the wine grapes grown in the Cantinian vineyards were certified organic by Argencert (in conjunction with the USDA Organic Certification) and accredited by Global Program IFOAM. The vineyards are situation on elevated terrain with views of the Andes Mountains. Read more about the Argentina Malbec here

Yeast Suggestions:

  • Malbec: D254: Brings out bright fruit flavors and complexity such as berry, plum, and mild spice.

 

 

 

 

Chile
Musto Wine Grape_Chile_1 (6)Arriving: End of April, beginning of May

Grapes Varieties: Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier

Juice Varieties: Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet/Merlot Blend, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier

Fresco Juice Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Malbec, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay/Semillon Blend

Vineyard Information: The growing season for the Curico and Colchagua Valley’s was a hot and dry one. Expect wines with great character, intense flavors, complexity, and distinction. We should be receiving grapes around the same time as last year, maybe a little earlier for the whites. Read more here for more information on the Chilean Harvest.

Yeast Suggestions:

  •  Cabernet: CSM – New Yeast Coming to Musto Wine Grape in the Spring!, Keep an eye for a blog post about in on Thursday’s Winemaker Think Tank!
  •  Malbec: D254: Brings out bright fruit flavors and complexity such as berry, plum, and mild spice.
  • Carmenere: D254: Brings out bright fruit flavors and complexity such as berry, plum, and mild spice or BDX: Promotes soft tannins, secures color, and ferments at low heat.
  • Chardonnay: QA23: Promotes apple and pear notes or VIN13: Heightens pineapple and tropical notes
  • Sauvignon Blanc: R2: Promotes fruity and floral notes or 71B: Brings out grapefruit notes and other tropical fruits or QA23: Promotes apple and pear notes or VIN13: Heightens pineapple and tropical notes

So pour yourself a glass of wine and give us a call or shoot us an email to secure your Pre-Order Today! 

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 6 – Do I Add Yeast to My Wine?

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What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank? 

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

Do I Add Yeast to My Wine?

Some winemakers prefer what is called a “natural method” of fermentation, by allowing the yeast that live on the grape skins to ferment the must into wine. While these yeast can start the process of fermentation, they generally have too low of a population and alcohol tolerance to successfully finish the fermentation process. The most successful fermentations are conducted with lab cultured yeast cells. This is not to say that this method isn’t natural as well. Scientists travel to famous wine growing regions to obtain samples of the natural yeast flora that exist in those environments. They take these samples back to the lab and culture them, breeding select and healthy populations that can be packed and sold to winemakers all over the world. These selected yeast strains have a higher alcohol tolerance and have had the benefit of many trials and research conducted on their behalf to see exactly how they affect a wine. By using these strains you will not only have a more successful fermentation, but also more predictable results rather than the unpredictable results of the wild flora “natural yeast” that live on the skins. Through their research, scientists have found that certain yeasts promote certain attributes of the wine such as color security, fruit characters, spice flavors, and acid reduction. A vintner may select one of these commercially bred strains to get the desired effect they would like in their end product.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com. 

Argentina Has Officially Been Added to Our Spring Grape Program

Argentina Has Officially Been Added to Our Spring Grape Program!

Musto Wine Grape_Argentina Vineyard (3)

Location: Mendoza, Argentina – specifically the Perdriel area in Lujan de Cayo county

Grapes Being Sourced: Malbec, their Malbec makes up 46% of their farmed vineyards.

Grower Information: The first Cantinian vineyard was planted in 1923. As of 2012, the wine grapes grown in the Cantinian vineyards were certified organic by Argencert (in conjunction with the USDA Organic Certification) and accredited by Global Program IFOAM. The vineyards are situation on elevated terrain with views of the Andes Mountains.

Geeky Facts: Their 2009 Malbec received 90 points in the Wine Advocate and a Silver Medal in the San Francisco International Wine Festival

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 5 – Is Malocatic necessary in White Wines if it has not been inoculated?

Wine expert testing wine silhouette image

What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank? 

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

Is Malocatic necessary in White Wines if it has not been inoculated?

When considering the stability of a white wine in preparation for bottling, sugar and microbial stability are of great importance. After fermentation, if MLF is not purposefully inoculated by the winemaker, the addition of Lysozyme may be considered as to retard any naturally present MLF bacteria from beginning to ferment. If the level of SO2 is kept up to is suggested level (contingent upon pH), the Lysozyme may not be needed as the SO2 will prevent the bacteria from fermenting. If the winemaker is trying to use a low amount of sulfites in their wine, I would suggest the use of Lysozyme to inhibit any bacterial growth.

Equally as important, is the use of sterile filtration. If the wine is processed through a sterile filter (.45µ), bacterial and yeast cells should be eliminated. This will physically prevent the bacterial spoilage of the wine. If the winemaker chooses to back sweeten the wine, this filtration will also help prevent any refermentation within the bottle. When it comes to back sweetening, I also always recommend chemical as well as physical sterilization of the wine to prevent fermentation and off aromas to develop within the bottle. Potassium sorbate may be used on any wine that has not gone through malolactic fermentation. If it is used on a wine that has undergone MLF, remaining MLF bacteria can begin to metabolize the sorbate, resulting in a strong geranium odor. In my experience, I typically add sorbate and sterile filter the wine, then bottle, without the addition of Lysozyme. I am meticulous about the level of SO2 remaining above the suggested amount , and I typically add an additional 10ppm before bottling to ensure prolonged sterility within the bottle.

While you certainly can conduct a chromatography test upon the wines to detect the presence of acid, both malic and lactic exist naturally within the grape, so the chromatography test will not be especially helpful when looking at a wine that has not gone through MLF. As long as you keep a vigilant watch upon your sulfur dioxide levels and pH, and use sorbate when sweetening, you should be fine.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com. 

2017 Chilean Wine Harvest Update

 

Musto Wine Grape_Chile_1 (6)

2017 Chilean Harvest:

2017 was a fantastic growing season up until the other day. As many of you might have heard on the news massive fires broke out in Chile. The fires have been a devastating blow to the Chilean people. However, The Curico Valley and the Southern regions of Colchagua Valleys were thankfully not affected. Unfortunately other Chilean wine growing regions such as the Maipo Valley were greatly affected by the fires and might not be able to produce vintages this year. We encourage everyone to donate to the Red Cross to aid in the relief of these fires.

The growing season for the Curico and Colchagua Valley’s was a hot and dry one. Expect wines with great character, intense flavors, complexity, and distinction. We should be receiving grapes around the same time as last year, maybe a little earlier for the whites. The first white grapes will be picked at the end of February. Carmenere will be in shorter supply this year as the demand has gone up for this grape, so put your orders in early!

Musto Wine Grape_Chile_1 (2)

The wines of Chile – along with the winemakers and vineyards that produce them – have had some profound transformations in the past 30 years. Grape growers have successfully determined which varietals thrive in their vineyards, have experimented with unique trellising systems, and explored interesting new areas for planting. The wines now have a head start because of the wonderful grape quality.

Musto Wine Grape Company, LLC. has been importing quality Chilean wine grapes for over 10 years. We have developed long lasting relationships in Chile and are constantly growing and developing the program. The vineyards are located between the Andes Mountains and Pacific Ocean. Therefore, the vines have excellent growing conditions for perfect ripeness and complexity thanks to the ocean breeze and Mediterranean climate.

The Curico Valley has been a wine grape growing region since the 1800’s and is located about 115 miles south of Santiago in the Central Zone of Chile. It is known as the “Heart of the Chilean wine industry”. Curico has the perfect fertile soil and is best known for its micro climates and the ability to grow over 30 different wine grape varieties. Situated along the Guaiquillo River and nestled between mountains on its east and west sides, Curico’s Mediterranean climate and unique topographical features helps to create some of the finest wine grapes in South America.

The climate in the valley is characterized by morning fog and wide day-night temperature fluctuations. Climatic conditions in some parts of the valley favor wines with higher acidity, such as white varieties including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Vert and Gris. High quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Carménère grapes are sourced from warmer areas of the valley, such as Lontué, particularly when produced from ancient vines.
Terroir: Sandy, clay, decomposed granite, volcanic-alluvial

Grape Varieties Available: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier

Juice Varieties Available: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet-Merlot Blend, Carmenere, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Muscat

Musto Wine Grape_Chile_1 (5)

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 4 – What is the best way to sanitize my equipment?

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What’s the Winemaker’s Think Tank? 

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

What is the best way to sanitize my equipment?

It is important to differentiate between cleaning, sanitizing, and sterilizing. Cleaning is removing any dirt, grape debris, or build-up from your equipment. Sterilizing is the process via heat or chemicals of eliminating all micro-organisms, which is nearly impossible in a home winemaking environment. Sanitizing is the goal for home winemakers. Sanitizing is the removal of harmful micro-organisms from the winemaking equipment. This will give the winemaker the healthiest environment possible for their wine. One of the most chemically and cost effective ways to sanitize winemaking equipment is by using potassium metabisulfite. Potassium metabisulfite works best in an acidic environment. To create a strong sanitizing solution, mix 2 tbsp. of citric acid and 1 tbsp. of potassium metabisulfite with 5 gallons of warm water. Mix all of these in a 6 gallon pail. You can now use this solution to sanitize all of your equipment. Submerge or rinse all of the equipment in this solution. This solution will sanitize the equipment of any harmful bacteria that could spoil the wine. Any tool, vessel, or hose that touches the wine should be rinsed thoroughly with the solution to prohibit contamination.

Also, check out our Youtube Video where our Bootcamp Professor Frank Renalid weighs in on sanitation

 

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com. 

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 3 – What’s the procedure to use a French Oak Barrel?

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The Winemaker’s Think Tank? 

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

What’s the procedure to use a French Oak Barrel?

Most wines will benefit from some form of bulk aging. Young wine tends to be a bit harsh, raw, and green and it needs some time to settle and round-out. Many wines, especially reds, will get better if aged in oak barrels. Oak barrels will impart unique flavors in wine and will also create subtle chemical changes over time. From vanilla and tobacco to tea and spice, different types of oak barrels will impart different flavors in the wine. However, all natural oak barrels will allow for micro-oxidation to take place – leading to reduced astringency, better color, structure, stability, and tannin integration, and a richer, more complex flavor and mouthfeel.

Yet as is true in most instances, better wine requires more work – and barrel care, maintenance, and ageing is no exception. Detailed instructions on how to inspect, swell, care for, and maintain an oak barrel can be found in our handy .pdf file here –> Barrel Care PDF. Once you have the basics down, we will go over some common questions about the aging process – starting with, “How long should I age my wine in a barrel and what styles are best for barrel ageing?”

The length of time a vintner ages their wine in a barrel depends on several factors. Is the barrel new or has it been used before? How large is the barrel? What style of wine is going into the barrel? New barrels will impart more flavors than used one will. A rule of thumb is that after a single use the oak extraction of a barrel will decrease by 50%. After the second use it will decrease by another 25%, and once the barrel has been used four times it is usually neutral – meaning it will not impart any oak characteristics into the wine.
Barrel size is also an important factor when determining how long to age your wine. Smaller barrels will impart oak flavors much more quickly than larger barrels. For example, while a 59 gallon barrel will hold nearly ten times the volume of wine as a 6 gal barrel, its surface area is only about twice as much. This means that the wine in smaller barrels has significantly more contact with the wood than wine stored in larger barrels and can be oaked five times more quickly.

Lastly, different varietals and styles of wine will require different aging times. A Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux blend, for example, can usually be aged 1-3 years in oak. A New World-style Pinot Noir, however, probably shouldn’t be in a barrel for longer than 10 months. A buttery, creamy Chardonnay needs to be checked often while the ultra-tannic Nebbiola can stay in oak for over four years. However, remember that not all wines will benefit from barrel aging. Most German whites such as Gewurztraminer and Riesling rarely receive the oak treatment. Also, Beaujelea nouveau and many cold-hearty hybrids made in this style are often aged in stainless steel tanks rather than oak barrels.

So finally we can address the question on how long to age your wine in an oak barrel. The answer is up to the winemaker. Remember that winemaking is an art – and each artist will have their own inspirations and palates. My advice is to taste and to taste often. If using smaller barrels (less than 30 gallons), I would be topping off and tasting every month until the oak profile is where I want it to be. Larger barrels will take much longer to impart oak flavors, but still have to be topped-off monthly, so why not take a taste while adding wine to the barrel? Please note that it is much easier to add oak flavor to a wine than it is to remove it, so I recommend erring on the side of caution.

What about the wine going into the barrel? Should it be racked or filtered beforehand? In most cases your wine should be racked and stabilized before going into a barrel for bulk aging. For reds this means making sure your primary and malolactic fermentations are finished, the wine has been racked off its lees (we advise at least 2 rackings – once after primary fermentation, and then again as it is being transferred to the barrel), and it has been properly sulfited. Filtering your wine before it goes into a barrel may be a bit of an overkill, but one of our winemakers uses a course filtration before bulk aging and his wines are exceptional. However, there are unique winemaking techniques used by different vintners for certain styles. For example, in sur lie aging white wine is aged on its fine lees for an extended period of time. Obviously you would not want to rack or filter wines made in this style before starting the bulk aging process. Yet in most instances a wine should be clean and stable before going into a barrel. Additionally, the winemaker should not have to rack wine once it is in oak– save that step for when the wine leaves the barrel.

While aging wine in a barrel can seem like a daunting process, in most cases it is worth the extra effort. Just remember to taste often to avoid over-oaking, make sure the barrels are topped-off monthly, properly manage your S02 levels, and be patient – it will be time well spent.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com. 

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 2 – What do I need to get started making wine with fresh juice?

Wine expert testing wine silhouette image

 

The Winemaker’s Think Tank? 

Every Thursday we will post about a few frequently asked questions that our winemaker has answered. If you have a winemaking question you would like to have answered, please email us at support@juicegrape.com and we will try to get into next week’s post. Cheers! :)

What do I need to get started making wine with fresh juice?

When elevating your winemaking to the next level, often sourcing the best ingredients is the most direct path to better results. After getting great base experience using wine kits, the next logical step to wine making greatness is fresh juice. When making this change from wine kits to fresh juice, other ingredients may be needed to ensure the juice will reach its greatest potential as wine. First, evaluate your juice for acid (pH) and sugar (Brix). What are the levels present in your juice? If the Brix level is below 20, you may consider adding sugar to increase the Brix levels to 24-26. What is the pH of the wine? Juice should have a pH greater than 3.1 to ensure a successful fermentation. If the pH is higher than 3.8, consider adding tartaric acid. This will ensure a better tasting wine after fermentation as well as a more stable wine.

The next area to consider is yeast. Certain strains of yeast will amplify certain traits within the finished product of wine such as fruit character, spice notes, or floral notes. The yeast has certain parameters that it will ferment best within, so consult a winemaking expert at Musto Wine Grape to help you select the best yeast strain for your wine. The yeast is the important catalyst that will process the grape juice into wine. The yeast will need certain nutrients to best assist it with its fermentation such as a rehydration nutrient like Go Ferm, and subsequent nutrients to finish out the fermentation process such as Fermaid O and Fermaid K. Musto Wine Grape stocks yeast along with all of the aforementioned nutrients in small packages, designed for the individual buckets of juice. This will give you perfectly measured amounts of products to add to your wine, making proper fermentation simple and with no wasted/unused product.

We hope this information helps with your winemaking. If you have any follow up questions or winemaking questions in general, please email us at support@juicegrape.com. 

Wine Wednesday: South African Cabernet Sauvignon

As the Spring Wine Grape Harvest Approaches, we thought we would check out some of the wines that South Africa has to offer.

Today we tasted a Cabernet Sauvignon. #HappyWineWednesday

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WINE: Bob’s 2013 Overnight Express South African Cabernet Sauvignon

TASTING NOTES: On the nose are notes of raspberry, berry, flint, and oak. The palate is filled with flavor, yet soft supple tannins round out the mouthfeel nicely. A great wine to enjoy with grilled meats or a meaty pasta dish.

VITUCULTURE: The soil where these grapes were grown is considered “Clovelly, Stony Glenrosa soils”. Clovelly is a component derived from granite, usually red to yellow colored. It contains acidic compounds. It is found on mountain foothill slopes and on ranges of hills, with good physical and water retention properties. Glenrosa soils are typically compact, stony, and clean cut.

WINE REGION: Western Cape, 31 miles East of Cape Town

GEEKY THINGS: Wines from the Western Cape are where some of our Cabernet Sauvignon will be arriving from. Wines from these locations are often described as having a subtle mineral note which many believe is from the decomposed granite soils. The Granite Mountains are approximately 600 million years old, over 3 times as old as the soil in Napa where many of the Cabernet Sauvignon vines are grown.

Click to Download Tasting Notes

More information about our South African Grapes are on our blog. Check out the most recent “2017 South Africa Harvest” by clicking HERE.

Cheers!

The Musto Wine Grape Staff