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Winemaking with Italian juices

Let’s make wine from Italian juice… at home!

Many winemakers wait all year for their annual Italian juice pickup at Musto. Despite the fact that they may be able to find some of these juices from California, they look forward to knowing that they will be able to make wine that hails from Italy itself.

There’s so many juices to choose from:

  • Amarone- cooked cherries, dark plums, cherry liqueur
  • Barolo- tannic, rose aroma
  • Brunello- cherry, blackberry, tannic
  • Chianti- red fruit, dried herbs, herbaceous
  • Dolcetto- plum, blackberry, cocoa
  • Lambrusco- fruity, blackberry, bright red fruits
  • Montepulciano- red plum, thyme, baking spices
  • Moscato- sweet, fruity, aromatic
  • Nebbiolo- rose, cherry, leather
  • Nero D’Avola- cherry, plum, licorice, tobacco
  • Pinot Grigio- lemon, lime green apple, bright and crisp
  • Sangiovese- tart cherry, strawberry, plum
  • Trebbiano- peach, lemon, apple
  • Valpolicella- cherry, cinnamon, chocolate

For winemakers who don’t have access to a crusher, destemmer, or press, making wine from Italian juices is a great way to get the joy of making your own wine with less steps and less mess.

So how can you start making your own wine from Italian juices? Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way!

  1. Choose an Italian variety that speaks to you.
  2. Come to Musto Wine Grape and pick up your pail of juice.
  3. Bring it home, pop open that lid, and add 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite to it. Add pectic enzyme if you’re going to (5 drops per gallon of juice). Give it a stir.
  4. Allow it to come up to room temperature – we’re talking 60 degrees or so.
  5. Choose your fermentation vessel: will you keep it in pails or ferment in a carboy or demijohn? Make sure everything is clean and sanitized. *Be sure there is enough room to account for fermentation foaming*
  6. If you are going to add fermentation tannins or additives (like oak dust, Booster Rouge, Booster Blanc) you can add that now. *Note: do not add tannins such as FT Rouge within 8 hours of adding enzyme*
  7. Pitch the yeast once the temperature has reached at least 60F. Yeast strain choices will vary depending on the juice you choose – ask a winemaker at Musto Wine Grape for a strain recommendation for the varietal you’re making. Follow the yeast starter directions explicitly. Be very careful of temperatures, never adding yeast if there is more than a 18 degree difference between the yeast starter liquid and the juice.
  8. Carefully monitor the fermentation by checking Brix levels daily. Add yeast nutrients as needed if you choose to do so.
  9. If you are adding malolactic cultures to your wine, you may also chose to do this at 1/3 Brix depletion. If using a malolactic nutrient (Opti-Malo Plus) with the bacterial culture, hydrate the nutrient in a separate container from the bacteria and add to the must directly before the addition of the bacteria. Follow all directions on the bacteria and nutrient packets explicitly.
  10. When the fermentation is complete, rack off the lees and continue aging. Many Italian wines are aged with oak – if you choose to do this, you can do so in oak barrels or with oak alternatives (such as chips or staves).

winemaking juices-how to make wine

And there you have it! Delicious Italian wine that you made in your own home. There’s nothing more rewarding than having a glass of wine you made with juice from a reliable source.

Feeling inspired? Come down to Musto Wine Grape and pick up some Italian juice. But don’t wait too long – we are fast approaching the end of harvest time. Pick up everything you need and and be on your way to kicking back as you sip on a glass of homemade Italian wine. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make Frank’s Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo to accompany it!

Setting up your stainless steel tank

Once the home winemaker has mastered the art of getting just the right amount of wine into dozens of different sized carboys, they may be wondering if there is an easier way to ferment and bulk age their wine. Enter the stainless steel tank!

While getting a stainless tank may seem like a big next step, it’s likely one of the best decisions you will make, assuming production levels are high enough. If you’re a home winemaker who has a couple carboys sitting in the cellar, your goal probably isn’t a larger tank. But if you’re making anything more than that, it may just make your life that much easier (and fun!)

A variety of sizes

Stainless steel tanks come in many sizes, from 100 liters (26 gallons) to 10,000 liters or more! Unless you’re looking to start their own large scale commercial winery, you’ll likely start your search in the 100L+ range.

Variable capacity or fixed volume

Part of the beauty of stainless tanks is that unlike carboys, demijohns, and barrels, they are oftentimes variable capacity. What does this mean? It means you don’t have to worry about constantly topping up, blending other wines into your batch to allow it to reach the neck of the vessel, the threat of oxidation, or employing inert gas to keep the head space at the top of the vessel blanketed. Some winemakers prefer fixed capacity tanks, but again, the downside is that you really need to stay on top of keeping them full the entire time you’re bulk aging.

A fixed capacity tank. These will usually have a hatch at the top rather than a variable lid that can be lowered or raised.

A variable capacity tank with floating lid

Time to set up your stainless steel tank

Setting up your tank is very simple to do. The basic setup will include a stand, valves, tasting valve, and maybe a thermometer and a thermowell. The tank may come with a stand or leveling feet which elevate it from the ground. Even the most simplistic, small tank may come with these, though some will only be basic enough that they get placed directly onto the floor or a pallet. The smallest tanks will not have a manway, since you can easily reach in from the top for cleaning or extracting the juice or must post fermentation. Some will have a valve on the bottom and some will not.

 

A thermometer gets inserted into the thermowell for constant temperature readings

What else might I need to set up on my tank?

  • A manway
  • 1 or more valves
  • Sight gauge (plastic tube on side of tank indicating volume in tank)
  • Racking port and drainage port (higher and lower ports, respectively)
  • Gaskets and clamps (most common are 1.5″ / 2″ / 2.5″)
  • Gasket and pump (for variable capacity tank)

Musto Wine Grape is happy to offer a wide range of Marchisio stainless steel tanks, from 100L capacity onward. Come see us and we will be happy to speak with you in detail about what tank is the best for you!

SOS: Sluggish/stuck fermentation

Many a winemaker has lamented the dreaded stuck fermentation. With so much to deal with during harvest time, the last thing you should be worried about is a ferment that has just up and quit. But sometimes it happens – knowing what to do when it does will be a life saver during an otherwise potentially unfortunate moment in a wine’s life. We’re here to walk you through how to handle this, what to do, and most importantly, how to do it.

stuck wine fermentation-how to make wine-musto wine grape

Step 1: Think about why it may have gotten stuck

This is going to help you moving forward, both with this wine and with future ferments. Was there too much sugar in the juice or must to begin with? Was the fermentation temperature too cool or too hot? Did you choose a yeast that doesn’t do well with high sugar levels? Were nutrient levels too low?

Considerations before restarting

  • Adding lysozyme can halt spoilage organisms which are often present in sluggish or stuck fermentations
  • Resuke can lower toxin levels that have accumulated which will give you a better chance for a healthy restart. If you add this you will rack off of it 1-2 days later.
  • Incorporate Go-Ferm and Go-Ferm Protect Evolution to ensure health of ensuing restarting fermentation
  • Carefully choose what yeast you will re-pitch with. 43, 43 Restart, Fermivin Champion, K1 (V1116), Vin 13, BC, and DV10 are great choices.

Step 2. Add a complex yeast nutrient

This is going directly into the stuck wine tank. If you think you may have a spoilage bacteria problem, this is the time you would be adding lysozyme.

Step 3. Combine equal parts stuck wine and water in another vessel

This is known as the “mother restart tank.” At this moment it will be totaling 2% of whole volume.

Step 4. Rehydrate yeast nutrient + yeast as you would when pitching yeast the first time

This is the exact same process you did during the initial yeast pitch.

Step 5. Add the yeast to the mother restart tank

As always, there should be a <18F difference between the yeast mixture and the mother restart tank liquid temperature.

Step 6. Add 10% of the stuck wine to the starter culture

Wait 20-30 minutes.

Step 7. Add 20% of the stuck wine to the starter culture

Wait 20-30 minutes.

Step 8. Repeat until the remainder of the stuck wine has been added to the mother restart tank

Don’t skimp on waiting the 20-30 minutes at each of the following steps. Give it time to acclimate!

LODI RULES in Sustainable Farming

So, you want to learn more about Lodi wine region?

Are you are interested in California wine? If so, chances are you’ve been on the up and up with what’s happening in Lodi. A fantastic climate, strong traditional roots, and multiple generations of winegrowers are paving the way for sustainability measures. This has led to the creation of the LODI RULES seal, a green stamp appearing on the back labels of certified wines much as you would find a “USDA Organic” sticker. Click here to see which of our Lodi wine grapes are LODI RULES certified –> LODI RULES – Musto Wine Grape

As California’s original sustainable viticulture certification program, this seal is representative of a producer’s commitment to stewardship and respect for the land. It is a symbol of transparency in all things related to sustainable viticulture. The certification does not approve only one aspect of winemaking. It looks at the whole of the process, from farm to vine to bottle. While over 150 wines bear the LODI RULES seal, not just any winery can use this seal on their labels. The wines must have 85% certified sustainable grapes and be able to prove this. This then gets confirmed through third party accreditation and auditing.

There are two layers to the accreditation

1. Wineries must agree to “The Standards” of the certification, which include 100+ sustainability measures, in addition to following a unique pesticide risk model. The Standards are comprised of sustainability related to

  • business
  • human resources
  • ecosystems
  • soil
  • water
  • pests

2. Wineries must follow the Pesticide Environmental Assessment System (PEAS), used to gain an understanding of the impact of pesticide use within the vineyard. This is then used to generate a quantifiable environmental impact unit through which the effects and range of pesticide application can best be understood within the local ecosystem.

The Lodi AVA is setting a fantastic example by supporting the land that retains some of this country’s oldest vines. Lodi Rules is imparting a new standard in its meticulous regulations, leading other wine regions following suit after realizing how successful this certification has been for the region. Keep up to date with the progressive measures this winemaking region is taking to best care for their land, and be sure to look for the LODI RULES label on your next Lodi bottle. And this fall, be sure to find your very own Lodi wine grapes here at Musto Wine Grape Co.

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 30 – How do I test for pH?

 

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! 🙂

pH scale diagram with corresponding acidic or alcaline values for common substances, food, household chemicals . Litmus paper color chart. Colorful vector illustration in flat style isolated on white background.

How do I test for pH?

Testing for pH is a reasonably simple process for your wine. Based on your budget, you can obtain a variety of pH measuring implements. There are pH test strips that will give you an approximate level of pH in your wine. They give a color reaction that when compared to a chart, indicates the pH of the wine. The next level up in sophistication as well as price is a basic pH meter. Musto wine grape offers a simple handheld pH meter that can be calibrated in a matter of minutes and gives precise and accurate pH readings. The probe must be stored properly in a storage solution to ensure that it does not dry out. The probe lasts from 12-18 months, depending on its care and must be purged after this time frame. With the most basic model, you throw out the entire unit and buy a new one. With the more sophisticated models of pH meters, the probe is replaced separately from the unit (which should last indefinitely).

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 26 – How do I test for Acid?

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! 🙂

Wine being checked on component saturation in laboratory on winery factory

How do I test for Acid?

When testing for acidity in wine, you are looking for the Total Acidity value, or the amount of acids in grams per liter of wine. While this may sound complex, it will help you in achieving a proper balanced flavor in your end product. You will need a few basic lab supplies: a test tube, a small 10ml graduated syringe, phenalthalein, sodium hydroxide. Draw a 15ml sample of the wine to be tested into the test tube. Add three drops of the phenalthalein. Swirl the drops around in the wine to mix it in thoroughly. (Note: When using sodium hydroxide, be very careful. It is a strong base that can cause burns. We suggest wearing eye and skin protection.) Using the 10 ml graduated syringe, slowly drop in the sodium hydroxide by .5ml at a time. Every drop, swirl the test tube contents to mix and observe any color reactions. Upon adding the drop, you will see an immediate color change, that will then dissipate. For white wines, you will observe a pink color and for red wines you will observe a grey color. Keep repeating the process of adding a drop, swirling and observing until the color change is permanent. The amount of sodium hydroxide used, when the color change is permanent, will give you the Total Acidity. If 6ml of Sodium Hydroxide are used, then the wine contains .6% or 6g/L of TA.

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 18 – Tips for Racking Your Wine

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! 🙂

The Joys of Racking Wine….

Racking your wine is a necessary evil. We know it can be tedious, but it the end it is so worth it.

Things to keep in mind when racking:

Cleanliness: We cannot express this enough. The cleaner your cellar, the less risk you have of spoilage, the better your wine will be. Aka SANITIZE EVERYTHING!! (however if doing MLF rinse with hot water as not to kill the ML bacteria) Use a solution of potassium metabisulfite dissolved in warm water. Add 2 tbsp to a 5 gallon bucket of water. Make sure that everything that will touch your wine (siphon, hosing, carboys, stirring rods) are all rinsed with this solution. Do not rinse it off with water, just shake off any excess droplets.

Primary Racking: Rack after your primary alcoholic fermentation is complete. This protects your wine from any initial microbial fermentation issues. Getting the new wine off of the dead yeast cells in important for the health of your wine to prevent off aromas.

Secondary Racking: Rack after the Malo-Lactic fermentation has finished. At the second racking you will want to rack your wine into an aging vessel. Whether that is a stainless steel tank or an oak barrel. Don’t forget to sulfite, unless you are doing MLF.

Third and/or Fourth Racking is used more for clarification purposes. Solids and fining agents (if used) will fall out of suspension and form a layer on the bottom of your aging vessel. Racking every 2-3 months, will consistently clarify your wine.

Using a pump makes life so much easier. You can pretty much sit back and relax with a glass of wine while your juice is being transferred. If you don’t have a pump the best way to rack is by using a siphon and the gravity method. Put the primary vessel up some place high (a table) and rack into your new vessel on a lower surface (floor).

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.

Chilean Wine Grape Update: Arrivals & In Stock

mer_malb_syrah

As of 5/2/2017 the following is in stock…

Juices:
ALL Chilean Varieties
ALL South African Varieties

Grapes:
Malbec
Carmenere
Merlot
Petite Verdot
Syrah

To Arrive 5/5/17….

Juices:
ALL Chilean Varieties

Grapes:
Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc
Carmenere
Pinot Noir
Petite Verdot
Malbec
Merlot
Syrah

Please feel free to contact us at sales@juicegrape.com or 877.812.1137 to schedule your pick up!

We are looking forward to working with you this Spring Harvest! Keep an eye on our Facebook Page and Harvest Tracker for more harvest information and upcoming wine classes.

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 15 – How to work with Frozen Must

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! 🙂

Simplifying Your Life with Frozen Musts

Life gets hectic. We totally understand. As the Fall and Spring wine grape harvest seasons approach, not everyone can just suddenly stop their normal life and shift into winemaking mode. Kids, vacations, work, weather and a myriad of other obligations can impact the ability of a winemaker to start a particular year’s vintage. And let’s not forget about those grapes – unfortunately they don’t seem to care much about your schedule. They ripen and arrive when it’s convenient for them, not for us. Fortunately there is a way to work with grape varietals anytime you choose by using frozen must.

Frozen must is exactly what it sounds like – fresh grapes that have been crushed and destemmed on site into must and then immediately frozen. Working with frozen must is very similar to working with fresh grapes, but there are some differences that winemakers should be aware of. With frozen must there is no need to take your crusher/destemmer out of storage and lift those heavy boxes of grapes into the machine. This part of the process is done for you already. If you were working with fresh grapes, the resulting must would be adjusted and then the winemaker would start the fermentation process. Yet by freezing this must we are basically halting the winemaking process by putting this must into a deep freeze – then the winemaker can thaw the must and continue the process when it is convenient for them.

frozen must 1

Besides the convenience of making wine around your schedule ( with less equipment and less preparation/cleanup), there is another helpful benefit when working with frozen red varietals – cold maceration! During the freezing and thawing process the prolonged skin contact at cooler temperatures can maximize color extraction. Additionally, the tannins extracted during this time are water soluble and will be softer than the harsher, alcohol soluble tannins imparted during primary/post fermentation maceration. Now that we have touched on the benefits of using frozen musts, let’s transition to working with it.

When you receive the pails/drums of frozen must, we need to get the must thawed and up to fermentation temperatures safely. All of our musts are sulfited to 50ppm – this will help to control any oxidation that may take place during the thawing process and also help to limit the formation of bacteria in the grapes. However it is still possible for some freezer-burned or moldy grapes to be present – remove any grapes that look questionable. Some winemakers like to slowly bring the must up to temperature over the course of several days, while some recommend getting to pitching temps as quickly as possible. A slow temperature rise will prolong cold maceration and its benefits, but remember that the must is susceptible to unwanted bacteria and other bugs until primary fermentation starts. We recommend keeping the pails at room temperature – they should thaw out in 2-3 days.

It is important to stir the must as it is thawing. During the freezing process it is common for the natural sugars and potassium bitartrates to settle at the bottom of the pail (very much like the frozen Italian ice cups you can buy in the supermarket. The best part is the bottom of the cup where all the sugary, sweet goodness has settled to). Stirring the must with a clean and sanitized utensil daily will help homogenize it so that it thaws evenly. Once the must is at pitching temperature, empty the pails into your primary fermenter and treat it just like you would freshly crushed-destemmed grapes. Remember to get all the juicy bits and tartaric crystals from the bottom of the pail! We recommend taking pH, TA, brix, and S02 readings and adjusting accordingly. These readings can vary based on the temperature of the must and how well it has homogenized during the thawing process, so it is best to wait until the grapes are at room temperature. While we will always recommend using commercial yeasts to help with a steady, clean fermentation, it is very important to use these types of yeasts when working with frozen musts.

So there you have it – using frozen must can simplify a winemaker’s life by making it easier and less hectic. Isn’t that what we all hope for during the harvest season?

(A big thanks goes out to Robert Herold for his original article Winemaking From Frozen Must which appeared in the December 2012 issue of Winemaker Magazine)

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.

Notes from our Winemaker Frank Renaldi about the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc: Primary Fermentation

Notes from our Winemaker Frank Renaldi about the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc:

Primary Fermenation

“Wine fermenting for 7 days slow and steady. Down to 4 brix. Nice nose and color as we wind down. Wine did get near 65F. I wet a bed sheet twice a day with cold water and wrapped around stainless tank. This helped keep the temp at 60F – nice and cool for a white wine.  Too hot and you will blow off the nose.”

Don’t forget to sign up for the Spring Bootcamp with winemaker Frank Renadli! Learn how to make great wine at home in just 5 weeks!

sauvignon blanc_chile_musto wine grape_winemaker_winemaking