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winemaking

How to Pick a Press

How to Pick a Press

Which kind is right for you?

One of the most visually iconic and useful tools in winemaking is the wine press. It is the device that will separate the solids and skins from the precious juice or fermented wine. There are a couple different kinds you have to choose from, though they are at their core the same in that they use pressure to push hard against the skins to extract the remaining juice or wine that has not already become separated from the skins.
But upon investing in a wine press, how does one select a size and style? Here are some tips on selecting your first wine press:

Picking a Style

There is more than one way to press a grape! For home winemakers, there are two main styles of wine press that you can choose from: ratchet press or a bladder press.

  • A ratchet press often has wooden sides and lid that hold in the grape must with a steel center rod and bottom juice tray. The grapes are loaded into the center of the press and large blocks are stacked on top of make up any lost volume. Then the lid is ratcheted down, applying vertical pressure from the top down upon the grapes. This style of press does an excellent job with extraction. The user must be careful not to exert too much pressure on the must as they are liable to crack seeds, which can release bitterness into the wine.

The ancient and traditional ratchet press

  • A bladder press is similar in shape to a ratchet press but operates differently. Bladder presses have metal sides and lids to hold in the grape must along with the traditional metal bottom. They work via water pressure. Simply attach a garden hose to the inlet valve and the water will inflate a center bladder which exerts horizontal pressure against the grape must. This style of press exerts more gentle and even pressure to the grape must. The press must be filled up to the top to avoid “mushrooming” and bursting the center bladder.

Pressing red using a bladder press. Note the stainless steel exterior.

Considerations

Choosing a reasonable size

When selecting a new press, the size options can be overwhelming. There are many different sizes of press, often measured in liters. Always take into account the must volume versus your end produced volume. If you anticipate to make 10 gallons of finished wine, you should anticipate on having 12-13 gallons of must, as the skins take up an additional 20% of the volume. You can always fill the press multiple times, but you should average at least an hour per press fill. Rather than do a huge load and then a much smaller one, it is preferable to split up each load so they will be pressed in roughly equal amounts. This will aid in giving the pressed juices/wines more uniformity.

Will your production size increase over time?

Also factor in the possibility of growth when selecting a press size. Winemaking is contagious and you may want to increase your batch size when you begin to drink your delicious results! It’s often wise to purchase a slightly larger ratchet press to accommodate for growth. If you purchase a slightly larger bladder press than what you may currently have for must, you can add rice hulls to the must to increase volume to properly inflate your bladder.

Other considerations

If you’re not a “sanitation is key” winemaker (and hopefully you are!) then a ratchet press may not necessarily be the best of these two choices. Since wood is porous, if you don’t remain cleanly every step of the way, then you may find yourself dealing with some very unwanted spoilage bacteria down the road. Getting a stainless steel bladder press will make it easier for you to be certain that every surface is completely cleaned and sanitized both pre- and post- use.

A “cake” is the press aftermath when using a ratchet press.

A wine press is a fundamental tool in home winemaking. It can dramatically increase your yield and quality. Knowledgeable staff at Musto Wine Grape can help you pick out the press that is the right fit for you!

How to Improve Color and Mouthfeel When Making Red Wine

No Wimpy Wines!

How to Improve Color and Mouthfeel when Making Red Wine

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A more common complaint amongst home winemakers is that their red wine lacks the depth of color and full body and mouthfeel that they would prefer. Everyone loves a wine that has a heavier mouthfeel, giving the sensation of whole milk or cream on the palette. While it is not always an indicator of quality, many folks associate deeply pigmented red wines with being higher quality. Both color and mouthfeel can be easily managed or enhanced at fermentation through the following factors:

Physical Manipulation:

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When selecting the grapes for your batch of wine, it is important to know what kind of wine characteristics that they generate naturally and how that matches up with your personal indicators of quality. If you favor very deeply pigmented wines, perhaps the integration of a very dark grape into your blend will help to boost color, right from the crush. Even a 10% addition of a deeply colored grape such as Petite Verdot, Petite Sirah, or Chambourcin can enhance the overall color of your batch and not detract from the primary varietal’s unique flavor character.

Cold soaking the grapes is another way to physically manipulate the grapes to achieve better color extraction. After crush, grapes can be lightly sulfited, and then allowed to cold soak, provided that they are kept around 40°F. Keeping the must around 40°F is important to inhibit yeast or bacterial growth in the must. There are many ways to keep the grapes this cold, including putting them in a refrigerator, using dry ice, using frozen sanitized jugs of water, or creating a small chilling closet with air conditioning and temporary walls. The extended cold soak will allow the condensed grape skin tannins to leach out and help lock in color by binding to color pigment molecules (anthocyanins). The addition of pectic enzymes during the cold soak will also aid in the color securing process.

Nutrient Additions:

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The additions of various supplemental nutrients will affect the color and mouthfeel positively. Booster Rouge and Opti-Red are supplemental nutrients for red wine fermentation that help to increase mid palette mouthfeel and enhance color stability. Opti-Red is high in polysaccharides that will help to lock in color pigments and create a more intense color. Booster Rouge is a yeast derivative nutrient that helps to contribute mid-palette volume and firmer structure to wines. Both of these nutrients also help with creating a smoother tannic profile to red wines.

Tannin Additions:

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The addition of tannins at crush to the grape must will help to contribute to the overall mouthfeel of red wines, but more specifically to the mid-palette volume of the wine. Products such as FT Rouge or Oak Dust can be added to the must at the beginning of fermentation to act as sacrificial tannins for the yeast to consume throughout their metabolic process. Rather than have the yeast consume the grape tannins, they will consume the oak tannins, leaving the preferred grape skin tannins. This will help to increase the overall preferred tannin content of the wine, increasing the overall mouthfeel and perceived palette volume. FT Rouge is also very effective at locking in color pigments, working synergistically with the previously listed nutrients.

Every wine we make has the opportunity to be the best vintage yet. Following these tips may help you to improve your wines potential for greatness!

2019 Amateur and Commercial Winemaking Competition

It’s that time of year again!

Musto’s 2019 Amateur and Commercial Wine Competition is just around the corner. Every year, home and commercial winemakers get the chance to show off their wines in a blind tasting judged by knowledgeable, seasoned wine judges in a series of blind tastings.

Click HERE to download all of your paperwork!

It’s hard work, but someone’s gotta do it!

Who can enter?

This wine competition is open to any amateur winemaker, commercial winemaker or winery. Wine entry must be made by a winemaker, not purchased and re-bottled and used as an amateur wine maker entry. Judge may not judge a wine they have submitted.

How do I enter?

Send Musto Wine Grape your bottled wine by the deadline of November 16th at 12PM.

What can I submit?

A wine entry is a still bottle of wine and submitted for entry in a 750ml wine bottle. Ice wines or late harvest wines may be submitted in a 375ml wine bottle, however if 375ml please send 2 – 375ml bottles. Sparkling wines must be submitted in a champagne style bottle with the proper closure. All bottle entries must be free of any labeling or identifying markings. However, each must be marked with category number, winemaker(s) name, wine ingredients, percentages & vintage.

 

What is the judging process?

Judging of wines will be performed on a 20 point award system. Each wine will be judged on its own merits and not compared to any others in its category. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals will be awarded within each category and based on the 20 point system. The Best of Show award(s) will be those wine entries that are superior within a given category.  All award decisions made by the judges and/or sponsors, are final.

We’re doing something different this year!

This year, in order to allow winemakers a more thorough and individualized analysis of their submitted wines, Musto Wine Grape Company staff will be personally judging and performing sensory analyses on each bottle. This year’s competition format will allow for more time, thought, and comments to go into each individual’s submission, yielding a more comprehensive understanding of each wine. Because of this, entries will be capped at 300 bottles. 

What are the categories?

Wine entries made from grapes and juice based wines will be judged and awarded in their own category. Wine entries made from kits and fresh processed and concentrated juices will be judged and awarded in a kit category.

Is there a deadline?

There sure is – have your wines sent to Musto Wine Grape, 101 Reserve Rd, Hartford CT 06114, by November 16th at 12PM.

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Is there a fee?

Entry fee for a single wine entry will be $11.00 and $9.00 each for 2 or more entries submitted at the same time. Make checks payable to Musto Wine Grape Company in U.S. dollars only.

Can I send in a labeled bottle?

No. All bottle entries must be free of any labeling or identifying markings. However, each must be marked with Category number, winemaker(s) name, wine ingredients and percentages & vintage.

How can I get it to you?

All shipments are the entrant’s responsibility therefore packaging must be able to withstand considerable handling and shipping costs are the entrant’s responsibility. COD’s or postage due will be rejected. If an entry bottle is received damaged, we will make every effort to contact the entrant and notify them of the damage. Check with your shipper as to requirements for shipping wine, we suggest shipping via FedEx.

When are results announced?

There is an awards ceremony held every year to reveal this year’s results, which will be held in Spring 2020 (exact date TBA) and of course you can also see the results announced on Musto’s website, www.juicegrape.com. All entrants will receive a copy of the judging worksheet and a copy of the winning results.

Enter the contest and you could go home with the gold in this year’s winemaking competition!

So what do I do now?

Send us your wine ASAP! Since entries will be capped at 300, we won’t be able to accept any after this. Look out for an announcement on Facebook and our website that lets you know when we have received our maximum entries.

 

Don’t make these mistakes this harvest season!

Avoid these all too common mistakes this harvest!

With all the planning, excitement, energy, and potential money you’ve put into preparing for harvest time, the last thing you want to do is make a silly mistake that may put the quality of your wine in jeopardy. The following is a list of pitfalls to be aware of. Heed these words to the wise and save yourself a headache in the future.

1) Inadequate space for your volume

Overflowing, bubbling, fermenting wines can make an absolute mess. You want to fill any vessel no more than 3/4 full pre-fermentation unless you’re both physically and emotionally prepared for the cleanup. You will also needlessly lose volume, yeast, and nutrient, in addition to your mind. Multiple tanks or carboys of various sizes will be your saving grace here.

2) Not cleaning properly

Clean, sanitize, repeat.

The importance of proper cleanliness and sanitation practices from the get go cannot be stressed enough. B-brite, One Step, soda ash, and Proxycarb are all cleaning agents. Potassium metabisulfite + citric acid is a sanitizing solution.

You want to clean and then sanitize, not sanitize and then clean. Don’t let anything with residue of fruit, juice, or must sit out for longer than necessary. That means that before you finish up for the day, your work space should be nice and clean and ready for the next day. Otherwise you will attract fruit flies, which can lead to VA issues in the wine. (Not to mention they’re a pain and difficult to get rid of anyway.)

Cleaning the inside of a carboy

3) Underestimating the need for nutrients

Adding yeast nutrients may seem like an optional add on, but why wouldn’t you want to ensure that your yeast have all of the nutrients that they need to be happy and healthy and get your juice to become the wine of your dreams? Some yeast strains almost require the addition of them to work well. There’s no harm in using them, but there can definitely be harm in choosing not to.

Lack of nutrients can lead to stressed yeast which can produce off odors (H2S, the smell of rotten eggs or cabbage) that are very difficult to get rid of.

4) Skipping steps/guesstimating

Eyeballing an SO2 add, rounding up on Brix levels, or having a “eh, it’s more or less correct” attitude when making wine can really complicate your life down the road. Sure, some people see winemaking as only art and some see it as only science; but the wise see it as the perfect blend of both.

We all know the feeling…

Bear in mind that measurements are used for a reason; the order of operations for certain nutrient adds are not arbitrary, as adding one with DAP before the right point can actually hurt the yeast; too little SO2 and the wine will suffer, too much and it will also suffer. The list goes on, but be sure you:

  • do not generalize
  • do not come to conclusions without taking all variables into account
  • do not guestimate unless you know for a fact that a “more or less” mindset is applicable in a given circumstance

Don’t guesstimate on your math – it may cause problems down the road

5) Forgetting that there’s a difference between US and metric system

Freshen up on your middle school math conversions so you can quickly maneuver between gallons and liters and ounces and grams. Some labels include g/L and lb/gallon. Double (or triple) check your math to be sure you’re consistent and working with the same unit of measurement. These early stage additions very much set the tone for the wine throughout its whole life so you want to get it started on the right foot. Online calculators like WineMaker Mag’s sulfite calculator and winebusiness.com’s conversions caulculator can be really useful because you can toggle back and forth between these systems depending on what you are most accustomed to.

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.

2019 Winemaking Class Schedule – *UPDATED*

Musto Wine Grape’s Updated Winemaking Class Schedule 

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Oak Alternatives Class

Fermentation Planning Class

Making Consistently Flawless Wines with Daniel Pambianchi

  • Focused in fermentation science, both alcohol and malolactic, understanding and managing pH and TA changes during fermentation, and advanced wine analysis skills.
  • Saturday September 7th
  • Cost: $250.00
  • Link: http://www.juicegrape.com/Seminar-Daniel-Pambianchi/

Winemaker Bootcamp

  • Musto’s hands on winemaking class. Learn how to make wine in class from start to finish.
  • Session 1: Starts Saturday September 21st – 9:00AM-12:00PM for 5 consecutive weeks
  • Sessions 2: Starts Saturday October 19th at 1:00PM-4:00PM for 5 consecutive weeks
  • Cost: $150.00 for class
  • Cost of Adding Grapes: TBD – depends on which grapes the class is working with. You will find out the this cost the day of class
  • Link: http://www.juicegrape.com/EDUIBL-5-WEEK-WINEMAKING-BOOTCAMP/

Winemaking 101

Winemaking 201 

We look forward to seeing you in class! Please email Christina at cmusto@juicegrape.com with any questions about our winemaking classes.

Grower Jeff Bitter talks about Veraison in his vineyard for Musto Wine Grape Company Winemakers

It’s that time of year again!

Our grapes are going through veraison in California.

Veraison occurs when the berry transitions into the ripening stage. From now forward the berry will increase in sugar concentration until it is harvested at the desired brix level. Grapes for sparkling wine or champagne are harvested around 17 brix and grapes for still wine are harvested around 25 brix. The brix level will determine the alcohol level in the wine. For example, a grape picked around 25 brix should create a 12.5% alch by volume wine.

Check out our video with Grower – Jeff Bitter as he walks us through his vineyard, verasion, and what he has been working on in the vineyard thus far.

Veraison in the Vineyard with Jeff Bitter for Musto Wine Grape Co. LLC.

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Email Sales@Juicegrape.com or call 877-812.1137 for more details

about the 2019 Harvest!

FREE Barrel Care Class – March 9th at 10:00AM

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Join us Saturday March 9th at 10:00AM for our FREE Barrel Care Class taught by our resident equipment expert Patrick Milio. Patrick will go over Barrel Care, Barrel Maintenance, and Barrel Aging.

Also, if you bring your barrel to class we will Ozone it for FREE (limit 1 barrel per person)!

We look forward to seeing you in class.

Please RSVP to cmusto@juicegrape.com to secure your spot in class.

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Why Ozone your barrel?

Ozone makes your barrel the cleanest state that science will allow.

Using Ozone will also help retain oak character within the barrels and make them easier to swell.

 

2019 Winemaking Class Schedule

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Start the year off right with Winemaking Classes! Learn new tricks and tips, or start your first batch.

Musto Wine Grape has a winemaking class for everyone!

Free Winemaking Classes:

  • Working with Chilean Wine Grapes & Juices – Saturday May 4th at 10:00AM

  • New England Viticulture –  Saturday May 18th at 10:00AM

  • SO2 Management – Saturday July 13th at 10:00AM

  • Working with Hybrid Grapes in the Winery – Saturday July 13th at 10:00AM 

$4.99 Winemaking Classes: 

  • Oak Alerntatives Class – Saturday August 17th at 10:00AM
  • Fermentation Tips & Planning – Saturday August 24th at 10:00AM

  • Making Wine from Juice – Saturday September 14th at 10:00AM

Winemaker Bootcamp Classes:

  • Chilean Bootcamp – Starts Saturday May 25th at 9:00AM

Daniel Pambianchi Seminar:

  • Saturday September 7th, 2019

Winemaking 101:

  • Spring classes: TBD Fall 2019

Winemaking 201:

  • Spring classes: TBD Fall 2019

Making Italian Amarone from Juice: How to Drink like a Millionaire, but Make Wine on a Budget

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A Little About Amarone:

The Italian Amarone wine is famous for its strong, tannic character and full bodied flavors of dried fruit. Rich and complex, it is a benchmark Italian wine, often challenging to recreate until now. Amarone develops its rich and complex character from partially drying the grapes, then fermenting them, decreasing the fruit to skin ratio. The higher levels of skin contact will give the intense tannins and dried fruit character that the style is known for.

How to Make Amarone/Amorosso from Fresh Juice:

When making Amarone with fresh juice, there are certain ingredients that you may add as the winemaker to help replicate the classic style and methods. To increase the skin contact for the juice, you can purchase an All-Grape add pack to add into your bucket of juice. The All-Grape pack is simply just that, wine grape skins and juice, designed to add more tannins and complex flavors to juice. The tannins found in the grape skins will become soluble in the juice and add more of the traditional Amarone character to it.

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Juice Options:

Winemaking Kit Options:

A way to increase the tannin content at fermentation and mimic the classic style is by adding supplemental tannins. Yeast naturally consume some tannins throughout their metabolic process of fermentation. Without adding additional tannins, they will consume some of the grape tannins that give Amarone its unique style. By adding some very cost effective fermentation tannins such as oak dust or FT Rouge, additional tannins will be available to the yeast for their process, therefore preserving the grape tannins for the consumer. FT Rouge is a natural oak derived tannin that will not only provide stronger tannic character, but will also help to enhance and secure color. Apply FT Rouge at 1gram/gallon. Oak dust will also supply some “sacrificial tannins” to the yeast fermentation process. The yeast will consume these tannins, leaving the more favorable, smother grape tannins for the consumer.

Winemaking Add Ons:

Another way to enhance your process of making Amarone from juice will be in your yeast and bacterial selection. Some yeasts that will enhance the rich fruit character of the Amarone juice are BM 4×4 and RP15. Both yeasts have a higher temperature tolerance and will help to secure the rich color. To recreate a traditional Amarone closely, the perception of acidity will need to be reduced. Using malo-lactic bacteria to metabolize the harsher malic acid, and turn it into lactic acid, which has a smoother, creamier mouthfeel, is a vital step in creating a traditionally styled Amarone. This bacterial fermentation can take place at the same time as the primary yeast fermentation, so that the bacteria will benefit from the available nutrients and heat generated via the yeast fermentation. For an individual bucket, we sell a pouch of bacteria that are very easy to use. Simply wipe the pack with sanitizer and stir it into the wine. The bacteria will finish up their fermentation shortly after the yeast finish their fermentation; approximately 2-3 weeks after it is inoculated.

Yeast Suggestions:

To round out the full bodied flavor and profile of Amarone, the winemaker will have to add oak to create a balanced bouquet. After fermentation, the winemaker should consider the addition of oak via a traditional barrel or a supplement, such as oak chips or staves. These will add additional tannic character, creating the Amarone most closely to its traditional style.

Aging Additions:

If you are interested in sourcing Italian Juices for winemaking please contact us at sales@juicegrape.com or 877-812-1137.

 

Written by Winemaker Maureen Macdonald