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Winemaker Spotlight Interview with Manuela Astaburuaga

Christina, Sebastian, Patrick, Manuella in vineyard

Winemaker Spotlight Interview with Manuela Astaburuaga

How did you get started winemaking? 

I’m the 5th generation viticulturist in my family so I was born between tanks and vineyards. When we were kids we played hide and seek in the tanks of the winery and we rode a bicycle among the vineyards.

When I finished the school, I decided to study Agriculture because I love the nature and live in the countryside, then in my last year of university I went to Australia to do my first vintage and I loved it. After I started to work with my family and I decided to go to France to do a Master in viticulture and Oenology.

What I love the most about Oenology is that most of the time there is a family tradition behind it. In my case my father founded the company Viña Correa Albano in 1991 but my grandfather, great grandfather, … also had their own winery Viña Astaburuaga.

Who were your wine mentors? 

My mentors where my father and grandfather. My grandfather was one of the first to broker of wine in Chile and one of the first to export wines. We also have photos of the first exportation where you can see the boats with tanks full of wines.

I really don’t pay attention to the winemakers. I love to taste different wines from different wineries, valleys and countries, but I never pay attention who was the winemaker, for me is a team job.

What do you look for when you make wine? What is your general winemaking philosophy?

The most important thing is have good quality grapes. A healthy grape, free of disease, means we can start making a good wine.

In white wines the expression of aromas and acidity is really important, so we try to have long fermentations at low temperature.

In reds, the wine aging is the most important for me. It is necessary to have the micro oxygenation to soften the tannins and it is very important to limit the oxidation to preserve the fruity aromas that come from the grape.

What is the most difficult aspect of making wine? What’s your biggest challenge as a winemaker?

The first thing is to have good quality grapes, for that we have to work all year.

In viticulture/oenology we say that we never have two equal years so for me the biggest challenge is to know how to react quickly in different situations as a rain or excessive heat for example can cause challenges.

What bottles of wine in your cellar are you most excited about? 

A few weeks ago, we were sorting out and we found samples of our first exportation of wine. We opened a bottle and it was really good so now that we found the bottles we take care of them the most. Also, I have a box of 12 bottles of my grandfather’s wine from my year of birth that he gave to my parents at my baptism and I’m waiting for a special occasion to open it.

I don’t have any favorite wines but for me the history behind the wine is very important, we cannot compare a big Chateau of Bordeaux with unlimited means with a small producer with all the adversities of nature.

In general, I enjoy more a wine from a small producer with a tradition behind them, than a wine from a big winery.

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What’s your philosophy on Oak and Wine?

For me the most important is oxygen in aging the wine, the barrels have porosity so they give a micro-oxygenation to the wine which is very important to the complexity and the maturation of tannins.

I use barrels, but I always try to not exaggerate because I prefer to preserve the fruity aromas over those gave from the oak.

Are you filtering your wines?

Yes and no. We have a tangential filter which is very good in preserving the quality. For our premium line, which has a minimum of 8 months in the barrel we will not filter.

Are there any new winemaking techniques or tools you’d like to experiment with?

We are thinking about implementing the pulsair system in our winery, so we don’t have to us the remontage method and limit the oxidation.

What’s been your greatest challenge as a winemaker?

The generational change.

Any advice for a new home winemaker? 

Have patience. We cannot rush the aging and to have complexity, sucrosity and soft tannins are important and take time.

Also, you have to have in mind that the oxygen can be the best friend or the worst enemy in the aging. Is important to have micro-oxygenation to help the maturity of wine but if it is not controlled, he can oxidize some components and be harmful to the final quality.

If you had to pick one wine to drink for the rest of your life what would it be?

I cannot pick only one wine, for me the wine depends the occasion and is important to change and try different wines.

What’s your favorite wine region?

I don’t have a favorite region but I loved the whites of Alsace and the Cabernet Franc of Saumur Champigny.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I am shy and I have a very bad memory, that’s why I can never remember the names of the winemakers and wineries I have tasted (that’s why I always write my tasting notes).

If you weren’t making wine what would you be doing?

I really have no idea!

 

Wine Class Schedule

We have a bunch of classes coming up! Make sure to RSVP via Facebook or Sign Up via the website!

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Saturday September 23rd: Common Winemaking Mistakes (FREE) at 10:00AM – RSVP by clicking HERE

Saturday September 30th: Winemaking 201 – Winemaker Lab Skills ($75.00) at 10:00AM – sign up by clicking HERE

Saturday October 7th: Winemaker Bootcamp ($150.00) at 9:00AM – sign up by clicking HERE

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 25 – Why is my wine evaporating?

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! 🙂

Smoke or vapor coming from a wine glass on black background.

Why is my wine evaporating?

Just like water or any other liquid, with prolonged exposure to air, wine can evaporate. When aging wine in an enclosed container such as a tank, carboy, or demijohn, the container should have an airtight seal via an inflatable gasket or an airlock and bung. This will help prevent against oxidation and will reduce the amount of evaporation dramatically. If you still see some evaporation happening in one of these closed containers, evaluate your bungs and seals as they may not be working properly.

The main source of evaporation in winemaking is through barrel aging. Barrels are a porous environment that allows the wine to “breathe” over time. This “breathing” process is essentially evaporation. The wine is exposed to air through the porous staves and small portions of the wine evaporate into the atmosphere. This has positive effects on the wine as it creates a creamier mouthfeel, can reduce the perception of acidity, and imparts oak flavor. The barrel must be filled monthly with additional wine to reduce the head space and replace the evaporated product. This will prevent the wine in the barrel from oxidizing. While the breathing process may be a source of frustration, as you witness your wine evaporating into thin air, it will help you to create a fuller, heavier, more lush wine.

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 23 – How do I test for Acid?

Wine being checked on component saturation in laboratory on winery factory

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! 🙂

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 22 – Seven Most Common Winemaking Mistakes

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! 🙂

As part of the winemaking process, the pressed grape juice runs into a stainless steel holding tank where it will be gently aerated.

Seven Most Common Winemaking Mistakes

1. Headspace – When making wine, it is imperative that any vessel being used is filled completely. Filling carboys, demijohns, or fixed capacity tanks to the highest level possible, minimizing any air space it very important to prevent oxidation. If using a barrel, the barrel will allow for some evaporation as the wine ages. It is critical to top of the barrel with additional wine as this will prevent the oxidation of the wine in the barrel. Barrels do promote a small amount of oxidation, referred to as micro-oxidation, which is helpful at creating a creamier mouthfeel and promoting the expression of fruit flavors and aromas. If a large headspace develops due to evaporation, this can cause severe oxidation in the wine.

2. Degassing– Carbon dioxide gas is a byproduct of the yeast during alcoholic fermentation. Often times the bubbles of SO₂ are so small, they get trapped by the weight of the wine. If the wine is not purposefully degassed, the bubbles may come out of solution in the bottle, resulting in a fizzy wine for the drinker. The degassing process is relatively simple. One may purchase a degassing tool that is attached to a cordless power drill and stirs the wine at a high speed, agitating it and releasing the trapped bubbles. The winemaker can also splash the wine while racking, agitating the wine and releasing the trapped bubbles of gas. As long as the wine has been stirred vigorously, the gas should dislodge and escape, ensuring that it will not be fizzy in the bottle.

3. Sanitation – This may be the most important step in all of winemaking. While cleaning and sanitizing may be a tedious and time consuming process, it is critical to ensure a healthy, long lasting wine. There are an assortment of cleaning agents (B-Brite, Soda Ash, Sterox) that are excellent at cleaning wine making equipment and removing stains. These products need to be rinsed off thoroughly and should be thought of as “soap” rather than sanitizer. After the equipment has been washed and well rinsed, it must then be sanitized with potassium metabisulfite. A solution of 2 ounces of sulfite powder, dissolved into one gallon of water, will yield a strong sanitizing solution that will kill off any microbes that could spoil the wine. This will ensure the longevity of the wine in the aging vessel or bottle.

4. Bench Trials – When using a fining agent or oak additive to your wine, it is very important to first conduct a small trial of the product, before adding it to the entire batch. Assess the addition rate for the compound you would like to add to the wine. Using that as a guide for your ratio, pull out a small amount of the wine and add the compound, making sure that the ratio is accurate for that size sample. Allow the sample to sit for a few days and try it. If the results are what you were striving for, then you can apply the compound to the entire batch. This will help save you time and money if you are not satisfied with the results of the bench trial and will help you most effectively improve your wine.

5. Sulfites – Sulfites are a naturally occurring compound within wine. While sulfites do exist naturally, they are at a low level, not sufficient for helping to preserve the wine as an antioxidant. Additional potassium metabisulfite must be added to help prevent oxidation as well as prevent any advantageous microbes from growing in the wine. If the winemaker neglects to add sulfites to the wine, it will easily oxidize and could also be susceptible to bacterial contamination.

6. Record keeping – Often times with winemaking, “the devil is in the details”. The smallest change in yeast strain, nutrition, and grape acid and sugar content, can have dramatic effects on the resulting wine. The best winemakers, on the home or professional level, take meticulous notes on all of their activities and observations. By keeping track of each step of their process, they are able to reproduce their very best wines and also do research on what went wrong with their failures.

7. Timing – It is said that timing is everything. This is particularly true for winemaking. Many folks assume after fermentation, they can just leave the wine alone to age and it will come out beautifully if untouched. This is not the case. The wine needs to be maintained with racking and sulfites to ensure its longevity. Sometimes in winemaking, a fault may develop, Rather than researching a way to fix the fault or seek some professional advice, some winemakers elect to do nothing and hope the fault goes away. Often times, these faults progress and get worse. If caught early, they can be easier to fix.

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 17 – Should I Add Sugar?

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! 🙂

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Do I add sugar?

Adding sugar can fall into two categories. If sugar is added prior to fermentation, it is called chapitalization and will increase the Brix (sugar level) of the must, resulting in a higher alcohol by volume wine. The yeast will process this sugar in addition to the grape sugars and will turn it into alcohol. Chapitalization is an important step for under ripe grapes, lacking in sugar.

Another form of sugar addition to wine is post-fermentation. This must be done with much care as to not restart fermentation. Adding the sugar after fermentation may reactivate yeast by offering them another food source and cause them to ferment that sugar as well. This can be prevented by adding sulfites to at least 50ppm to kill off the yeast. Adding sugar after sulfites will effectively back sweeten the wine, giving residual sugar and a sweet flavor to the wine. The winemaker can also add potassium sorbate to the wine, provided that the wine has not gone through malo-lactic fermentation. Potassium sorbate cannot be added to a wine that has undergone MLF as it will result in an off aroma of geranium taint. Potassium sorbate is strongly suggested for white wines that the winemaker would like to add residual sugar to. The sorbate will encapsulate any yeast particles, prohibiting them from metabolizing the sugar that was added for sweetening.

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!

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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. 

Come Celebrate Your Winning Wines on January 21st

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The results are in and the date is set! Come Celebrate Your Winning Wines on January 21st, 2016.

The 2016 Musto Wine Grape Company, LLC. Wine Competition Dinner will entail a catered dinner, medal ceremony, wine themed games, dancing, and raffle prizes. All raffle money proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warriors Project.

This is an event you don’t want to miss! There may even be a possibility of hitting Frank Musto in the face with a pie! (Shhhhh don’t tell Frank ;))

Tickets: Purchase HERE

Results: Musto Wine Grape Wine Competition Results!

LOCATION:
Zandri’s Stillwood Inn:
1074 S. Colony Rd, Wallingford, CT 06492
January 21st, 2017
6:30PM – Midnight

 We Hope To See You There! Cheers!

Take An Adventure to Lodi Wine Country

Instagram Post _Take an Adventure to Lodi Wine Country

We are bringing Lodi Wine Country to you this fall. An exciting time for the region, Lodi was recently named “Wine Region of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. The grapes are grown in a Mediterranean style climate producing wines of great character and strength. Keep an eye out for our newer Italian Wine Grape Program from this region. These grapes will be producing some fantastic and age worthy wines.

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