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The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 37 – “How do I make Rose?”

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! :)

Many glasses of rose wine at wine tasting. Concept of rose wine and variety. White background. Top view, flat lay design. Natural light.

How do I make Rose?

There are a few different approaches to making rose wines. The most traditional way is to crush red grapes, leave the juice in contact with the skins for a limited amount of time, then press off the juice rather quickly (within a few hours) to yield a deep pink colored juice. Once this juice is fermented, it will yield a rose wine. The best grapes to use for this type of production would be any red varietal with a higher acidity. Early picked red grapes or a very fruit forward varietal tend to make the best roses. Some varietals that we have worked with successfully to make beautiful roses are Barbera, Grenache, Gamay, Chambourcin, and Pinot Noir.

Another approach would be to take a white wine and to add a small portion of red wine to it, predominantly for body and color. A very small amount of red wine will provide adequate color to change a white wine into a rose color. A small amount of prep work needs to be done before the blend is created. If the red wine was put through malolactic fermentation, the MLF must be complete before the wine is added into the white wine. If the red wine has not completed MLF, it cannot be used to blend as the bacteria will begin to metabolize the malic acid within the white wine. To prevent this, first make sure that the wine has completed MLF, then add Lysozyme to prevent the further proliferation of bacteria. It is always imperative to make sure that the wines have also been adequately sulfited prior to blending as well. It is very important to do bench trials of the blends before the addition of the red wine to ensure the desired results. A small amount (5-10%) of the red wine will add a nice touch of color and body to a white wine, creating a beautifully blended rose.

 

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 35 – How do I know if fermentation is complete?

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 process of making wine in a winery in south africa

How do I know if fermentation is complete?

It is often easy to see visual signs of fermentation:  from activity in the airlock, bubbles, and the formation of a cap to the aromas of yeast and carbon dioxide, the wonders of fermentation are succinct observation.  But how does the home winemaker know when the fermentation is complete? The simplest way of seeing if fermentation is complete is to taste the wine and observe if there is any sweetness to it. If there is still sugar that you can taste, the yeast have not yet completed their job. The most accurate and scientific way of seeing if fermentation is complete is to take a measurement of the Brix via a hydrometer. A hydrometer is a glass instrument that reads sugar content via the hydrometers buoyancy in wine juice. The juice sample should always be placed into a sanitary, cylindrical shaped vessel. As the wine ferments, yeast consumer sugar and excrete alcohol, making a thinner, less dense liquid. At the beginning of fermentation, the hydrometer will not sink very far into the wine. The sugars within the juice make it thicker and the hydrometer will float on top of the juice. As fermentation progresses the new wine becomes less dense and sugary, allowing the hydrometer to sink down into the liquid. When the fermentation is complete, the hydrometer will sink down into the liquid to the 0 mark, if not farther. When reading the hydrometer, spin it slightly in the cylinder to dislodge any bubbles that may cling to the sides of the hydrometer. Observe where the meniscus of the wine falls on the gradients of the hydrometer. This will give you your sugar level in degrees Brix of the fermenting wine. When the hydrometer sinks to zero or below, the fermentation is complete and you can rack the 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 Italians have arrived!!

Our Italian Wine Grape Clones has finally arrived from Contra Costa. Located below Suisun Bay and East of the Oakland Hills, Contra Costa is the premier growing area for Italian varietal wine grapes. Many of the vines grown in this area are considered ancient. The Mediterranean climate produces wines with bold features and good color. The soil is deep and sandy, making the grapes fight for their water, only increasing the intensity of the fruit. Think big bold reds, with leathery notes, and supple tannins. Quantities are limited, make sure to call ahead so we can secure your order. Ciao!

IMG_6781_AglianicoIMG_6780_NeroFullSizeRender_SagrantinoFullSizeRender (003)_MontelpucianoFullSizeRender (005)_Nebbiolo

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 32 – “What do I do if I have a stuck fermentation?”

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! :)

Closeup of early 30's man having some wine in the middle of the day and thinking about his relationship problem. Somewhere at the bottom of the glass there is a meaning of everything that bothers him right now.

What do I do if I have a stuck fermentation?

                  Sometimes, even though we take great care as winemakers to avoid it, we can get caught with a stuck fermentation. Yeast are incredible creatures, capable of very rapid reproduction, but they do have their limiting factors. It is very important to know the limitations of the certain yeast strain that you are using for your wine. Evaluate your must’s pH to ensure that it is above 3.2, the lower pH environmental threshold for most yeast strains. Take into consideration the alcohol tolerance of the yeast that you selected. If you take the initial Brix level and multiply it by .55, you will have a pretty close estimate of your ending alcohol by volume. Make sure that you haven’t put in a yeast that is unable to handle the rising alcohol levels of the must. Another important factor to consider is the temperature of the must. All yeast strains have a preferred temperature window in which they like to work and reproduce. Because fermentation is an exothermic reaction, check your temperatures (if making reds always take a measurement under the cap) and be sure they haven’t gotten so warm that the yeast may be dying off. The opposite is also true, ensuring that your juice or must have warmed up enough to allow the yeast to begin their processing. Lastly, another important factor to  consider in the health of your fermentation is the nutrition of your yeast. Aside from the sugar that they consume, yeast also need proteins, vitamins, and minerals to complete a healthy fermentation. Using a nutrient, such as Fermaid, will give the yeast the other elements needed to properly process the juice.

                  After the careful evaluation of these factors, you may need to add a small amount of water, nutrients, or heat or cool the must/juice. A winemaker at Musto Wine Grape is happy to help you with the amounts and timing of these additions. If all of these factors have been evaluated and adjusted for, prior to fermentation, and you still have a stuck fermentation, you will need to restart the fermentation. Please contact support@juicegrape.com and a trained winemaker can help you with a restart procedure.

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 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

In Stock as of 9/16/17 at 6:20AM

In Stock as of 9/16/17 at 6:20AM

•  Valley Beauty Zinfandel
•  Costamagna Cabernet
•  Smiling Baby Barbera
•  Cry Baby Syrah
•  Lodi Gold Petite Sirah
•  Cry Baby Baby Muscat
•  Uva di Cal Ruby Cabernet
•  O’Caprio Alicante #42
•  Lugano Old Vine Zinfandel
•  Lugano Old Vine Merlot
•  Cry Baby Cabernet Sauvignon
•  Cry Baby Barbera
•  Lugano Barbera
•  Cry Baby Grenache
•  Muscat King #42
•  Lucerene Thompson Seedless #42
•  Smiling Baby Thompson Seedless #42
•  Helena Sangiovese
•  Helena Black Muscat
•  Cry Baby French Colombard
•  Lodi Gold Grenache
•  Lodi Gold Chardonnay
•  Lodi Gold Pinot Grigio
•  Costamagna Viognier
•  Cry Baby King’s River Petite Sirah
•  Cry Baby Merlot
•  Cry Baby Malvasaia Bianca
•  Cry Baby Alicante #42
•  Costamagna Syrah
•  Cry Baby Petite Verdot
•  Paso Robles Musto Pinot Noir
•  Cry Baby King’s River Tempranillo
•  Valley Beauty Barbera
•  Lanza Merlot
•  Lanza Musto Malbec
•  Lanza Musto Barbera
•  Lanza Musto Malbec
•  Lanza Musto Primitivo (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Lanza Musto Muscat Cannelli
•  Tenbrink Pinot Noir
•  Cal Special Alicante #42 (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Cal Special Thompson Seedless #42 (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Teaser Zinfandel (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Cal Special Merlot (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Teaser Grenache (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Cal Special Cabernet (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Cal Special Barbera  (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Caterina Cabernet (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Caterina Old Vine Carignane (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Caterina Chardonnay (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Caterina Grenache (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Caterina Merlot (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Caterina Petite Sirah (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Caterina Pinot Noir (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Caterina Old Vine Zinfandel (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)
•  Caterina Sangiovese (PLEASE CALL AHEAD, SELLING OUT QUICKLY)

Numbers from Washington State as of 9/14/17

wa state_cab

Numbers are of 9/14/17

Pinot – 22.5 Brix, 3.3 pH

Merlot – 22 Brix, 3.47 pH

Cab Sauv – 20 Brix, 3.4 pH

Cab Franc – 19 Brix, 3.42 pH

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.

Musto Crush Crew Pre-Harvest Traditions

Ever wonder how we prep for harvest?

Time to Make Wine photo

Frank Musto: “I always pick up two new pairs of work shoes in August, make sure I break them in before season. I usually burn through two pairs each season….Food of choice is McDonalds, nothing takes the pressure of a hard day like a Big Mac, large fries, and a diet coke…After Labor day, I kiss my wife good bye, pet the dog behind the ears, and tell them ill see them in late October.”

Christina Musto: “I’m usually pestering all of the growers for photos of the vineyards.  Then I get my house into “harvest mode” stocking up on beer, cider, frozen meals, and chocolate. Finally, I treat myself to purchasing a special bottle of Schramsberg Brut Rose as an “in case of emergency” bottle.

Patrick Milio: “I bid farewell to friends and family, stock up on Beer, Bourbon, and Bubbles to enjoy after long days at the shop, and pre-emptively apologize to my digestive system for the terrible nightly takeout meals that are to come.”

Colin Mulryan: “I go through all of my old clothes to wear for the season, because it all gets thrown out at the end. And stock the fridge with beer.”

Ken Milio:  Our Harvest tradition starts the week before as its time to clean and sanitize last year’s Crusher / Destemmer, Fermenting tubs, Must Plungers and other small items. You can tell how much wine was consumed last year by the cleanliness of the equipment this year. On crush day, our tradition is that all involved toast the new season with a shot of “ Honey Grappa “. After the crush, we again clean and sanitize the equipment then the drinking and eating begins.

Maureen Macdonald: “Driving to VT to stock up on beer, because nothing is better after a day of processing grapes, than a cold beer. And updating my Peapod account, as who has time for groceries?”

Frank Renaldi: “The first thing I do to prepare for harvest is to think of another way to trick my wife into thinking I am not making a lot of wine. Last year I told her she miscounted the number of cases of grapes on the truck. The year before I told her each case of grapes weighed 10 pounds.
Then I get down to business and take inventory of my supplies and order what I need by July. I also decide on the grapes I want to work with and reserve my order. Then I check all my equipment to make sure it is ready for the big day. I talk to all my wine making friends and we get excited like little kids getting ready for their first day of school – well it does happen at the same time of the year. I think this year I will tell my wife, I had to buy more because the grapes were smaller this year.”

Barry St. Pierre:  “First thing is to make and freeze a big pot of chili…for friends who stop by to help or for ourselves when we are too tired to make anything else. Full tanks have to be bottled or moved to free up space for new grapes and wine. Of course we pre-clean all of our equipment, especially our feet…need to be sure to remove all toe jam. By now all supplies are ordered, especially grapes from Musto…I seem to always get yelled at for not ordering early enough. Then sit back, open a bottle of wine, and wait for the grapes to ripen and arrive.”

Robert Herold:  “As the harvest/crush/press day approaches, I start fortifying myself with wine several days in advance. For the actual activity day, nothing works as well as beer to make the task go smoothly. To quote a very good winemaker friend of mine, ‘it takes a lot of good beer to make a good wine’.”

some of the musto crew robby loading frank's truck

on staff winemakers frank and maureen loading wine grapes into customer trucka

The Winemaker’s Think Tank: Vol 29 – How do I test for Brix?

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! :)

A winegrower is measuring the alcohol level of the Pinot Gris grapes.

{refractometer used in vineyard for brix levels}

How do I test for Brix?

There are two ways to test for Brix in your grape juice and/or must. Prior to the addition of yeast and fermentation, one may use a hand refractometer to measure the sugar content (Brix) of the grapes. First the sampling method must be discussed. Simply taking one grape and squeezing it on the refractometer is not an accurate measurement of the entire batch, it is only reflective on the sugar content of that grape. The most accurate way to measure Brix would be to crush and process the grapes into a fermenting tub, punch down to thouroughly mix the must and allow to sit for 24 hours. This will create a more homogenous product from which to draw a sample. Using a hydrometer is simple, place a drop of grape juice on the lens of the hydrometer and lower the plastic coverslip. Hold the refractometer to your eye and look towards a bright light source. The light gets refracted by the sugar and will form an indicator line on the lens inside of the refractometer. This lens has a marked measurements column which will then give you your initial, pre-fermentation Brix level.

The density of wine in a test tube is determined through the use of a hydromete, which floats at different heights according to the density of the liquid (in accordance with Archimedes' Principle

{hyrdometer testing brix levels}

Once yeast has been introduced to the must and begins to excrete alcohol, the refractometer loses its accuracy. This is when the hydrometer becomes more useful in this instance. To use the hydrometer, you will also need a cylindrical container; a graduated cylinder works well (the cylinder must be taller than the hydrometer). Pour a strained sample of the must or juice into the sanitized cylinder. Put the sanitized hydrometer into the cylinder and spin it slightly to dislodge any bubbles that may cling to the sides of it. Allow it to come to rest in the juice and observe the meniscus of the liquid and where it falls on the gradients of the hydrometer. This will give you the Brix level of the fermenting wine. As the wine ferments, the Brix level will continue to drop until it is at zero.

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.