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FlexTanks: Classic Results with Convenient, Modern Technology

For many years, winemakers have sought a way to store their wines that not only adds to the overall quality of their wine but won’t deplete their wallets or the environment. Flex Tanks are an excellent solution to all of these problems. Flex Tanks are an increasingly popular line of wine storage vessels that are incredibly space efficient, cost-effective, and also promote micro-oxidation on a level similar to a wooden barrel. 

FlexTanks are made of a rotational molded, food grade safe plastic. The polyethylene is oxygen permeable allowing for a small amount of oxygen transfer, on the same levels as a second year wooden barrel. This will allow wine to age and “breathe” as though it were in a barrel, creating a thicker, creamier mouthfeel. There are two different grades of FlexTank depending upon the winemakers goals; either the maturation weight, which allows a level of oxygen transfer on par with a second year barrel, and a heavyweight level which allows less oxygen transfer, approximately 50% less than the maturation weight.

FlexTanks are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, accommodating the space and scale of any winemaker. From small 15 gallon cylindrical tanks, to tall, narrow space saving 570 gallon tanks, there is a FlexTank for any situation. There are a number of smaller sizes, well suited for the home winemaker, including 15, 30, 50, 70, 80 gallon sizes. All tanks are formed in a way to minimize headspace and easy filling. All tanks are equipped with a lower spigot or 1.5” butterfly valve, which is easy for transfers. Most of the larger sizes are also equipped with a sampling port and breathable airlock. In the authors’ personal experience, a 300 gallon FlexTank can be cleaned thoroughly of tough debris within 15 minutes. The plastic is incredibly easy to clean and is compatible with winery alkaline cleaners such as B-Brite or Soda Ash. Most debris is easily rinsed off with a hose and the contoured base promotes easy drainage.

FlexTank also makes many tanks that are ideal for the commercial winemaker as well. They offer uniquely shaped 570 gallon “cell” model tank that has a very small footprint of 82”x29”. This tank is ideal for space saving for wineries concerned with space issues. They also make excellent 240 or 300 gallon “stacker” tanks that are cube shaped and able to be stacked up to three high, also reducing the floor footprint if space is a concern. FlexTanks are not only for aging, but can be used for fermenting as well. FlexTank offers an airlock to allow CO2 to escape throughout the fermentation. They have designed the “Apollo” and “Orion” in an egg shape, to simulate the classic vessels of Europe, often made of wood or concrete. The oval contours will help to promote yeast circulation throughout fermentation.

Along with a much smaller physical footprint, FlexTanks also leave a much smaller environmental footprint. While an oak barrel may last for a few vintages, before it is devoid of oak flavor, a FlexTank can be used indefinitely with more cost effective wooden chips to promote oak flavor and micro-oxidation. The polyethylene that the tanks are made of is fully recyclable along with any metal components (valves, framing, and ratchet lid). Also, due to the ease of cleaning, much less water is used in their cleaning process than the traditional barrel or metal tank. Overall, FlexTanks can be a large step towards more environmentally friendly winemaking practices.

Musto Wine Grape is proud to offer the full line of FlexTank products. Our staff has almost ten years of very positive experiences working with the tanks and is happy to make suggestions to best fit your winemaking needs.

 

Written by Winemaker Maureen Macdonald

Temperanillo: A Spanish Grape Fit for a Queen

tempranillo_how to make wine_musto wine grape

Temperanillo is an incredibly fruity and juicy varietal of wine grape that dates back over 2000 years in Spain. It is the most widely planted varietal in Spain, and the third most widely planted in the entire world (as of 2015). It is one of the oldest genetically traceable grapes in Spain and has been called the Noble Grape of Spain. Its grapes were often used in wine production for the noble class of the country, as well as for religious purposes. The conquistadores brought the grape to South America in their travels, further popularizing the varietal. While the name Temperanillo may sound unfamiliar to some winemakers, it is the primary grape in Rioja blends, a name often more popular to the consumer.

              Temperanillo is famous for its direct and lush strawberry flavors. It has a bit higher level of acidity, really bringing out the bright strawberry and plum flavors. The grape has a thicker blue-black skin with a colorless interior. Limited skin contact at crush can generate a nice rosé, embracing the acidity and berry flavors of the wine. Prolonged skin contact throughout fermentation will generate the traditional, full bodied red. Temperanillo can stand as a full-bodied, fruity red on its own or can work well with other varietals in blends. To create a traditional Rioja blend, Temperanillo should be the largest percentage of the blend, coupled with varietals such as Grenache, Carignane, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines can either be blended at crush or post fermentation, the latter giving the winemaker more finite control over the blend. Using yeast strains CLOS or VRB, which are isolated from ancient Spanish wineries, will help to enhance the overall structure and mouthfeel of the wine, helping the winemaker to recreate a traditional Rioja blend. The VRB yeast specifically, will also help to promote those lush fruit forward characteristics that the varietal is known for. The use of Opti-Red and Booster Rouge as supplemental yeast nutrients will help to secure color and tannic structure. Oak may be supplemented at fermentation to help preserve the grape tannins and then also added later to add flavor during the wines’ maturation process.  We always advise to use a complete nutrition program throughout fermentation, including the use of Go-Ferm, Fermaid O, and Fermaid K. This will help avoid any stuck fermentations and off aromas.  Temperanillo, as most reds, will benefit from malolactic fermentation.

              Temperanillo is a versatile, early ripening varietal with a long history of contributing to great wines. From its origin in Spain, to its travels and proliferation in the New World, its fruity legacy has carried on creating wines fit for royalty or for adventurous winemakers, like us.

Check out these Videos of our Tempranillo being Crushed & Pressed!

IMG_2640_Tempranillo Crush_Musto Wine Grape_Winemaking

IMG_2641_Tempranillo Press_Musto Wine Grape_Winemaking

 

Written by Winemaker Maureen Macdonald

Black Muscat: A Grape by Any Other Name

The oldest genetically traceable family of grapes is the Muscat family. Over the centuries, the grape has traveled around the world and transformed itself through many genetic mutations. One of the most well known genetic crosses of the original Muscat grape is the Black Muscat.  Black Muscat is a cross of the Schiava Grossa and the Muscat of Alexandria. The grape has very large, plump berries, with white flesh and black skin. The grape has intense, sweet floral and candy-like flavors.

              Black Muscat can be used for a very wide variety of wine making purposes. It can be pressed to produce a white juice, that has been used in famous dessert wine productions as well as left on the skins to produce a flavorful rose or red table wine. It is popularly used for table wine production in California, China, and Eastern Europe. Quady Winery in California has gained fame and many acclimations over their dessert wine, Elysium, produced from the Black Muscat grape. The intense florals and sweet fruit flavors that are found in the unprocessed grape, translate in the finished wine product. Big flavors of raspberry jam and candied citrus make the wine deliciously sweet with enough acidity to create a harmonious balance. Because the wine can be made in so many different styles, the winemaker has many choices to control the outcome of the final product. If creating a dessert style wine, beneficial yeast strains would be Vin 13 or R2 to promote the complex floral aromatics. If creating a rose or table wine, QA23 or 71B yeast strains will help to promote aromatics and to capture the ripe red fruit flavors. Skin contact time will be critical; a few hours on the skins will produce a flavorful rose and then full maceration/fermentation on the skins will create a fruit forward table wine.


              Musto Wine Grape has had such wonderful results with this grape, that Frank Musto has planted his own fields of this varietal. The vines are coming up on their 20th birthday, generating large but complex fruit and excellent yields. Frank Musto’s Black Muscat has started being harvested and is arriving in Hartford currently. Brix levels are averaging in the mid 20’s with smooth acidity. We are looking forward to making a fruit forward rose this year with some of the fruit. It is exciting to create a new style of wine with such an ancient, treasured strain of grape.

 

By Maureen Macdonald

Teroldego: Adding Old World Style to New World Wines

Teroldego grape_Musto Wine Grape_Winemaking_Winemaker_Home Winemaking_How to Make Wine

 Teroldego is an ancient varietal from the northern mountains of Italy. Originating from Trentino, a mountainous region on the Austrian border, this incredibly dark skinned grape is the genetic parent of Lagrein and Syrah. The grape is a prolific grower, bearing heavy yields while maintaining quality. The thicker skin makes for a more stable grape on the vine and allows for a longer hang time, generating a higher Brix level and more complex phenolics. They often use pergolas to help control the vigor of the vine itself.

The thicker skin of the Teroldego grape lends tremendous tannin content to the finished wine. Upon vinification of the grape, flavors of baking spices, red fruits, and pine are generated. Hints of tar and leather come most directly from the grape skin. This grape will add a tannic punch to any blend and can help to add mouthfeel to a thinner red variety. Some yeasts that will help to amplify the fruit notes and mouthfeel of the Teroldego are D254 and D80. This grape can also help add color and can be integrated at crush in a varietal with color securing problems. While Teroldego can be drunk early, it really starts to shine after 5 years of aging. In the aging process, the tannins will link up and form longer chains that will be perceived as a smoother mouthfeel. If the consumer doesn’t mind a more aggressive, bold wine, it can be enjoyed early, a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats.

Teroldego is an ancient variety with a traditional, earthy old-world style. While we may not be able to travel to Italy to create an old-world style wine, we now can bring Italy to us, in the form of this beautiful grape.

 

Numbers collected on 9/14/18 –

Brix=24.2
pH=3.62
TA=4.26g/L
YAN=276.8

Written by Winemaker Maureen Macdonald

How to Add Body without Ever Hitting the Gym, meet the Lagrein grape…..

Lagrein grape_Musto Wine Grape_Winemaking_Winemaker_Home Winemaking_How to Make Wine

As winemakers, we have all had a red wine that feels a little thinner in the mouthfeel than we would care for. It may feel thin bodied and slightly flabby. How does a winemaker address this issue in their wine? Unlike people, we can’t send the weak bodied wine to the gym to bulk up, but we can introduce the wine to Lagrein. Lagrein is a red wine grape that originates from the northern valleys of Italy. It has been used to create very aromatic rosés and incredibly full bodied red wines. It has a higher level of acidity and a lower pH factor than many red wines, making it an excellent blending wine. When vinified on its own, Lagrein has a lot of intense, chewy tannins and flavors of plum, tobacco, and an earthy minerality.

              When making a stand-alone Lagrein, (or to be used in a blend later), it is suggested that the winemaker may choose to have a limited maceration time for this grape variety. The important and prevalent grape tannins are hydrolysable and will be extracted into the must within the first few days of fermentation. The stronger, bitter seed tannins will be extracted in the accumulating ethanol later on in the fermentation, giving cause to the winemaker for an early pressing. BDX yeast strain will help to create a smoother and rounder mouthfeel, given its propensity for soft tannin extraction. Another excellent yeast for this varietal would be D80 as it will enhance palate volume, finer tannin sensation, and brings out the spicy flavors within the Lagrein grape. Fermentation aids such as Booster Rouge and Opti-Red will help to lock in the color and preserve the longer chain, smoother grape tannins with in the Lagrein grape. The winemaker can chose to add oak dust or fermentation tannins, but with the tannic intensity of the grape, it may not be as crucial as with other varietals. We always advise to use a complete nutrition program throughout fermentation, including the use of Go-Ferm, Fermaid O, and Fermaid K. This will help avoid any stuck fermentations and off aromas. 

              Due to its intense tannic structure, the Lagrein grape is an excellent grape to blend with other wines to help build up their tannin structure. The winemaker can chose to add in a small percentage at crush to naturally fortify their primary varietal with additional tannins or to ferment a batch of Lagrein separately and then blend into other wines, post fermentation to add to their structure or mouthfeel. With its bright acidic character and higher tannin content, it can greatly add the attributes to any red wine. Having a small amount of Lagrein wine in the winery, maybe the perfect finishing touch to some of your other wines. It can add such strong structure and body to a red wine blend, it can be a useful “secret ingredient” to fortify the body of red wines. Incorporating Lagrein, your wine will feel like it has “hit the gym” without ever having to leave the winery. If only it were that easy for the rest of us!

Wine Grapes from Amador County

Amador Brix Levels are in! Amador’s production of robust, intensely flavored red wines is attributable to its high percentage of old vines -roughly 600 acres out of a total of 2,700 are 60 years or older, including several vineyards dating to the 19th century. These deeply rooted, head-trained vines, primarily zinfandel, found in vineyards such as Plymouth, produce tiny crops of small-berried grapes which produce the heady zinfandels for which Amador County is renowned. Our Amador Sangiovese is at 19.6, Barbera at 19.0, and Zinfandel is at 19.2. Make sure to put in your pre-order via sales@juicegrape.com or 877-812-1137.

Amador_Winemaking Grapes_Barbera

Amador_Winemaking Grapes_Barbera_2

Amador_Winemaking Grapes_Sangiovese

Amador_Winemaking Grapes_Sangiovese_2

Amador_Winemaking Grapes_Zinfandel

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Ger-whaaaat? You may not be able to say Gewurztraminer, but here is why you should be making it.

Musto Wine Grape_How to make wine_Gewurztraminer_winemaking

Gewurztraminer is an aromatic German varietal that has been twisting tongues of wine enthusiasts for decades. Only in the past decade has Gewurztraminer been making a more consistent appearance on wine lists and in wine stores. With interest in not just sweet, but complex, sweeter wines trending amongst millennial drinkers, varietals like Gewurztraminer are seeing a surge in their popularity.

              Gewurztraminer is a grape variety that is originally from the Alsatian region of France, on the German border. Its attractive pink to light red color of its skins was thought to be a genetic mutation of the Red Traminer grape of Germany and Northern Italy. Its name comes from the German “Gewurz”, which means “herb” or “spice”. When sipping Gewurztraminer, it is easy to see the development of its name, as the grape is famous for its floral, slightly herbal, and spicy aromas. Upon vinification, the grape often has large aromas of lychee, rose petal, white pepper, and passion fruit. The varietal is most well-known for its intense aroma. Even small amounts, when added to a blend, will greatly enhance complexity of the aroma.

              When making your own Gewurztraminer, Musto Wine Grape imports Gewurztraminer from the Central Valley of CA. This premium grape growing region generates a ripe, bold example of Gewurztraminer. The grapes average around 24-26Brix upon arrival, with appropriate, refreshing acidity. We would suggest using Vin 13 or R2 yeast to enhance the varietal character and to help promote the fruity and floral aromas that the Gewurztraminer is known for. The addition of supplemental yeast nutrients such as Booster Blanc and Opti-White will help to preserve the intense aroma for long term enjoyment and a small addition of FT Blanc Soft can help to increase the mid-palate volume and intensity of flavor. We always advise to use a complete nutrition program throughout fermentation, including the use of Go-Ferm, Fermaid O, and Fermaid K. This will help avoid any stuck fermentations and off aromas.  Gewurztraminer will not benefit from malolactic fermentation.

              The intense perfume-like aromas and luscious tropical flavors found in Gewurztraminer make it an excellent pairing for spicy food such as Asian cuisine or Indian Curry. It is a refreshing patio sipper with such an astounding aroma, it is guaranteed to impress anyone who you may pour it for.

Written by Winemaker Maureen Macdonald

How to Work with Anciet Wine Grapes

Our Ancient Vine Wine Grapes come from one of the oldest grape growing regions, Madera County, CA. The grapes were planted close to 80-100 years ago and are being farmed by the 3rd and 4th generations. These are low production and low yield vineyards. They yield 2-4 tons/acre depending on the variety. These berries are small clusters with high concentration of phenols and color. Incredibly concentrated grapes which create a very concentrated and complex wine.

To see a video of our Ancient Alicante Vineyard click the play button below.

Our Suggested Ancient Vine Blend:

60% Alicante, 20% Muscat, 20% Grenache

Ancient Vine Wine Grapes for Home Winemaking from Musto Wine Grape Co.

pictured above – ancient vine Grenache

Yeast Suggestions: 71B, VRB, and D254.

  • If you want to make a more fruit forward wine: 71B is a great yeast for fruit forward wines such as Grenache and Alicante. It helps bring out the fruity aromas Grenache and Alicante are known for.
  • If you want to make a make a wine with a more balanced ratio of tannin to fruit: VRB yeast is a consistent fermenter that helps bring out the tannins while enhancing varietal characteristics.
  • If want a wine with a balance of fruit and earth: D254 is a yeast that helps develops ripe fruit together with mild spiciness while increasing mouthfeel.
  • *Please note that we always suggest using nutrients and putting your red wines through malo. Click the links below for more information on Musto Wine Grape’s Fermentation Protocols.

Ancient Grapes Available:
– Alicante
– Carignane
– Grenache
– Barbera
– Muscat

Fun Fact: For a grape to be considered an Ancient Vine it must be 75+ years old. To be considered an Old Vine it must be 35+ years old.

For more information on purchasing ancient vines grapes please give us a call at 877-812-1137 or sales@juicegrape.com.

Musto Wine Grape Harvest Update – Brix Levels, Harvest Dates, and Delivery Dates

Hello Winemakers,

We have a lot to update you on. But first and foremost – Our first loads of grapes will start to arrive the week of September 10th. Think white wine grapes such as Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Viognier, Muscat, Thompson Seedless, Barbera, and a few other early red varieties. Our first load of juice should be arriving around September 6th with limited varieties.

Musto Wine Grape Harvest Update – Brix Levels, Harvest Dates, and Delivery Dates

We are seeing Brix numbers creep up in every AVA.

Lodi: Zinderella Zinfandel should be picked around September 8th. They are currently at 18 Brix.

Suisun Valley: We are at about 16-18 Brix depending on the variety.

Central Valley: We are anywhere from 17-22 Brix depending on the variety.

Paso Robles: Pinot Noir is around 18.5 Brix.

Contra Costa: Aglianico is around 18.2 Brix

Washington State: The Pinot Noir is around 20 Brix and the other varieties are still going through verasion.

King’s River: Tempranillo is at 21 Brix.

For up to date/real time information please refer to our Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/MustoWineGrapeCoLLC/ or email cmusto@juicegrape.com with questions.

Interested in Juice?

Musto Wine Grape Harvest Update – Brix Levels, Harvest Dates, and Delivery Dates

We should have our full line of juice pails by September 10th. The Fresco juices and Italian juices are set to arrive in mid-October. We will keep in touch with those who have pre-ordered. Remember Fresco juices are pre-order only.

Classes – Seminars – Events

Musto Wine Grape Harvest Update – Brix Levels, Harvest Dates, and Delivery Dates

  • Saturday September 8th at 9:00AM-4:00PM: Making Consistently Flawless Wine Seminarwith Daniel Pambianchi. In this seminar, you will learn the intricate interplay and management of oxygen, sulfur dioxide, and polyphenols, and clarification and stabilization techniques towards making greater wines more consistently and flawlessly. The seminar will also demonstrate how to measure and control oxygen and sulfur dioxide in wine.
  • Saturday September 8th – 8:00AM-1:00PM: Customer Appreciation Day – Hello Winemakers! We hope you have enjoyed your summer. We are looking forward to getting back into the winemaking groove by hosting a Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday September 8th from 10:00AM to 1:00PM. The event will feature wine information from our growers in California and Farm to Table Appetizers. We hope to see you there to help us kick off the 2018 Harvest Season! Please RSVP to cmusto@juicegrape.com.
  • Saturday September 15th at 10:00AM: Winemaking 101: Intro to Wine Making. This program primarily covers the basics necessary to understand the art and science of making wine. Students should leave the class with an overview of the winemaking process and prepared for a hands-on experience.
  • Saturday September 22nd at 10:00AM: Winemaking 201: Winemaker Lab Skills: This program primarily covers laboratory skills needed in the art and science of making wine.
  • Saturday October 13th at 9:00AM: Winemaker Bootcamp: You’ve asked for it and once again, we’ve responded. The only hands-on winemaking bootcamp in the area. No need to spend thousands. Musto Wine Grape Company is pleased to announce the start of a five week class for beginner winemakers in the art and science of making wines. This course offers each student the opportunity of experiencing hands-on winemaking and producing their own five gallons of wine by the end of the semester. In addition to actually making wines, the course will cover the science behind modern wine making and fermentation techniques including additives commonly used by commercial wineries throughout the wine making world. Classes will be about 3 hours each Saturday, starting at 9:00 am, in the offices and winemaking showrooms of Musto Winegrape Co, 101 Reserve Road, Hartford, CT, 06114.

Make sure to keep track of our blog posts and Harvest Tracker..

We are looking forward to working with you this fall. Get those crushers and fermentation vessels ready, harvest will be here before you know it!

Sincerely,

The Musto Crush Crew

Rich Soil + Cool Delta Breezes = Delicious Wines from Lodi’s Historic Vineyards

Did you know that the first wine grape in Lodi was planted in the 1800’s? Or that Lodi produces over 450 wine labels? 4th and 5th generation growers are taking their historic vineyards to new levels by introducing sustainable growing practices, planting interesting wine grape varietals, and producing block specific wines.

The Lodi AVA was created in 1986 and the farmers here have been growing and developing their winemaking and vineyard plantings ever since. With over 75 different grape varieties planted in Lodi, there is no shortage of interesting high quality grapes. According to the critics the top grapes coming out of Lodi are Old Vine Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Rhone varietals, and Italian varietals. Many of the wineries in Lodi enjoy working with their grapes because they create wines that are complex, flavorful, and pair well with food. After all, wine was created to drink and enjoy with family and friends.
Musto Wine Grape is bringing in a diverse variety of grapes from Lodi this season. With a great price point and no shortage of options, Lodi is one of the most versatile and creative AVA’s for winemaking.

Rich Soil + Cool Delta Breezes = Delicious Wines from Lodi's Historic Vineyards_musto wine grape_how to make wine

Winemaking Suggestions:

  • Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel
    • CLOS; Ferments well under tough conditions, enhances aromatic structure; high alcohol tolerance of 17%
    • RP-15; Balanced mouthfeel, red fruit and mineral flavors, alcohol tolerance of 17%
    • VRB; Ripe fruit, jams, plum flavors, softens tannins, alcohol tolerance of 17%
  • Lodi Cabernet
    • BDX; Soft tannin extraction, increased mouthfeel, alcohol tolerance of 16%
    • D-254; Ripe red fruit, jam, and mild spicy flavors, alcohol tolerance of 16%
    • D-80; Fine tannin integration, spicy and savory herb flavors, alcohol tolerance of 16%
  • Lodi Petite Sirah
    • RP-15; Balanced mouthfeel, red fruit and mineral flavors, alcohol tolerance of 17%
    • CLOS; Enhances aromatic complexity, wide temperature range (58-90°F), alcohol tolerance of 17%
    • VRB; Ripe fruit, jams, plum flavors, softens tannins, alcohol tolerance of 17%
  • Contra Costa Montelpuciano
    • Contra Costa is an area in Lodi that has a very similar microclimate to Italy. Italian varietals flourish here and come out similar to those grown in Italy.
    • D-254; Ripe red fruit, jam, and mild spicy flavors, alcohol tolerance of 16%
    • VRB; Ripe fruit, jam, plum flavors, softens tannins, alcohol tolerance of 17%
    • BM 45; Fruit jam, cherry liquor, sweet spice, and cedar flavors, alcohol tolerance of 15%

Rich Soil + Cool Delta Breezes = Delicious Wines from Lodi's Historic Vineyards_musto wine grape_how to make wine

Wine Grapes/Wine Juices Available:
• Alicante
• Barbera
• Cabernet Franc
• Cabernet Sauvignon
• Carignane
• Grenache
• Malbec
• Merlot
• Mixed Black
• Petite Sirah
• Pinot Noir
• Ruby Cabernet
• Sangiovese
• Zinfandel
• Old Vine Zinfandel
• Valdepena
• Albarino
• Balck Muscat
• Chardonnay
• French Colombard
• Malvasia Bianca
• Muscat
• Pinot Grigio
• Riesling
• Sauvignon Blanc
• Thompson Seedless
• Viognier
• Aglianico
• Montelpulciano
• Nero D’Avola
• Sagrantino
• Mourvdere

Christina’s Top Wineries to Visit in Lodi:

If you are interested in Lodi grapes or juices please give us a call at 877-812-1137 or email us at sales@juicegrape.com to secure your order. Cheers to the 2018 Winemaking Season!