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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.

2017 Harvest Outlook for Suisun Valley, Lodi, and Central Valley

Suisun Valley Harvest Outlook

Everything is maturing along in Suisun Valley. We are seeing verasion come to end in varieties such as Merlot and Sangiovese. Petite Sirah, Cabernet 169, and later varieties are still going through the verasion process. Looking at the maturity level of the grapes harvest should start around September 4th in Suisun Valley – beginning with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The next varieties to pick will most likely be Merlot around September 10th and, Sangiovese, and Malbec around September 16th. The later varieties such as Petite Sirah and Cabernet 169 should harvest around late September/early October.

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Interested in the weather in Suisun Valley? Click here to see what our weather stations are picking up on a daily basis!

 

Lodi Harvest Outlook

Overall the Lodi crop looks great. The rain helped strengthen the deep roots this winter, which allowed the vines to grow a vigorous canopy. The big canopies from the record rain fall has protected the grapes from the summer heat. Therefore, it should be an average to slightly below average crop this year. Most varieties look normal, however Cabernet and Zinfandel look to be low slightly lighter than last year. The Lodi appellation is made up of mostly sandy loam soil and unlike the Central Valley they get constant cooler temps in the evenings. This area experiences 40 degree swings in temps that help with coloring the grapes and the skins are thicker which produce a dark juice high in tannins. This is why the region is famous for its delicious Zinfandels and Italian grape varieties!

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Central Valley Harvest Outlook

With the extra rain fall Central Valley is looking to be a great harvest. The crop looks to be about the same as last year and we should be harvesting about 4-6 days later than last year. We anticipate some of the Central Valley fruit to start shipping to the East Coast around August 28th. Get your crushers ready!!

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We should have an updated harvest report pertaining to Paso Robles, Napa/Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Washington State next week. Keep an eye out for our next email.

There is a lot going on at Musto Wine Grape Company and we are looking forward to seeing you on August 26th for Customer Appreciation Day.

Harvest Kick Off Party - 1pg (2)

Cheers to making your favorite wine!!

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 24 – 5 Cost Effective Tips to Help you Save Money in Your Winemaking

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! :)

Red wine from good grapes is fermented very nice

Cost Effective Tips to Help you Save Money in Your Winemaking

1. Alternative Varietals – Most winemakers aspire to make a big, bold Cabernet Sauvignon or supple Merlot. While these grapes make excellent world class wine, they are not the only varietals that can give you these results. Call your grape supplier and ask for a list of varietals that they can source for you. Do some research on lesser known varietals such as Carignane, Cinsault, Grenache, or Gamay. Perhaps making one of these varietals in the style of your preferred varietal, will yield some satisfactory, and more cost effective results.

2. Reusing Barrels Safely and Effectively – Barrels contribute two factors to wine: oak flavor and a round mouthfeel. While the first few vintages aged in the barrel will be bursting with oak flavor, over time, the oak flavor will dissipate from the barrel, rendering it neutral. While the barrel may not be able to contribute a lot of flavor to the wine, it will still add an important reductive character through micro-oxidation. Wine will still continue to evaporate out of the barrel and yield a creamier, smoother mouthfeel. If the winemaker desires more oak flavor, oak may be added to the barrel in the form of chips, staves, spirals, or cubes. This method will allow the winemaker to keep using the barrel for many vintages, rather than replacing them when the oak flavor diminishes.

3. Oak Alternatives – Barrels have much of the visual “romance” associated with winemaking, however they can be a very costly investment. For a new home winemaker making smaller batches, it may not even be feasible to get a small enough barrel. Rather than putting the wine into a barrel, why not put the “barrel” into the wine? Oak is now available toasted in the same way a barrel would be and in a variety of forms and sizes. In each form, it will deliver oak flavor to the wine, some shapes having more surface area and acting more quickly, whereas other shapes may take longer to infuse flavor. These are a very cost effective and efficient way of imparting oak flavor to wine.

4. Involve Friends – As your home winemaking progresses, often times winemakers want more sophisticated processing and analytic equipment. While a Destemmer/Crusher or a Bladder Press may last you many years, it is a costly initial investment. One way to help defray the cost of the equipment is to purchase it with other winemakers. If you have friends who also make wine or can network through a wine appreciation society, you can find other vintners who may be willing to split the cost of the machines with you. This can turn crushing and pressing into a party! Not only will the cost be divided, but so will the labor. Another way to try and reduce the cost of equipment is to try and purchase used equipment. Keep an eye on Craig’s List and wine classifieds for pieces of equipment someone wants to part with. Also, a local winery may have some equipment that they no longer use as they have scaled up and they jump at an opportunity to sell it rather than allowing it to collect dust.

5. Increase Production – As with many item in life, buying in bulk is more cost effective. Speak with your local grape broker to see if they offer volume discounts. If you have formed a winemaking group to share equipment costs, then perhaps you can get a better price on grapes if you purchase together, rather than separately. The same idea applies to corks and bottles. Buying larger quantities, provided you have adequate storage space, will save you money.

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 21 – Do I need a barrel to make wine? Can I just use tanks/glass?

Collection of wine, rum, beer classical wooden barrels

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! :)

Do I need a barrel to make wine? Can I just use tanks/glass?

american oak chips

Most aspiring winemakers hold romantic visions of putting their wine in a barrel, tasting it periodically with loved ones, waiting until the magical moment it tastes perfect, and is ready to bottle. While there are benefits of barrel aging wines, it is not required to create a dry wine with oak flavors. Juice may be fermented in barrels, tanks, carboys, or pails. While the oak will add certain flavor characteristics and “sacrificial tannins” to the wine during fermentation, the winemaker can add oak dust, chips, or staves to create a similar effect. Furthermore, during the aging process, oak chips, spirals, staves, balls, cubes, etc. can be added to the wine to give it a pleasant oaked flavor. This is ideal for the home winemaker as it is more cost effective and often requires less time than traditional barrel aging. When wine is aged in a barrel, some of the wine evaporates out of the barrel, often referred to as the “angel’s share”. This results in a more concentrated, creamy mouthfeel as well as an oaked flavor. The wine within the barrel must be maintained as the evaporation will cause an air gap in the barrel (headspace), which can promote oxidation.  Spare wine must be kept in a separate container to be used to top off the barrel to minimize this headspace. In summary, barrel can add a beautiful finesse and flavor to your homemade wine, but are not crucial to home winemaking success.

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 19 – Should I rinse my corks?

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! :)

Wine corks background

Should I rinse my corks?

Today, most manufactured corks are made in a sanitized environment and then packaged in vacuum sealed bags to ensure cleanliness. There is no need to boil, soak, or rinse the corks before use.

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

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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.

Notes from our Winemaker Frank Renaldi about the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

Notes from our Winemaker Frank Renaldi about the Chilean Sauvignon Blanc

“Good day, Grapes looked really good. No mold, clean, juicy. Let set with enzyme for 5 hours. Good press. Tomorrow will measure, adjust and add goodies and pitch yeast.” – We are sold out of the white grapes but still have some reds grapes and white & red juices available Give us a call at the office to secure your order!

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 12- Common Winemaking Faults and Flaws

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! :)

In this week’s Winemaker’s Think Tank we outline the difference between flaws, faults, and how to identify them.

  • Flaws
    •  Flaws are a mistake made in the winemaking process that leads to a property in the wine that is not characteristic of the varietal
    •  Stylistic Choice vs. Flaw
    •  Imbalance Flaw
      • Acid vs Sugar, Oak Levels, Alcohol Level
    • Visual Flaws
      • Haze, Sediment, Effervescence, TA Crystals, Floaters, Lack of Color Saturation
    • Aroma/Bouquet Flaws
      • Lack of Aroma, Non-varietal aroma, Over-oaking
  • Faults
    • Faults are often a microbial or chemical reaction within the wine in some part of its life that significantly alters a wine, eventually leading to the point of spoilage.
  • Oxidation Faults
    • Acetaldehyde – oxidation of Ethyl Alcohol smells like sherry, or old apples, browning
      • Causes: headspace, low sulfites, poor corks, bacterial contamination
    • Acetic Acid – Vinegar
      • Causes: Acetaldehyde, Acetobacter bacteria react with ethanol, Fruit Flie
    • Ethyl Acetate – Nail Polish Smell
      • Oxidation of Acetaldehyde and Acetic Acid
      • Causes: headspace and bacterial contamination
  • Sulfur Faults
    • Hydrogen Sulfide – Rotten Eggs Smell
      Causes: lack of yeast nutrients, yeast stress, sulfur sprays, yeast bi-product, high temps
    • Sulfur Dioxide – Burnt Match Smell
      Causes: over sulfating, wild yeast
    • Complex Sulfur Faults- Mercaptans, DMS, DES, DMDS, DEDS
      Causes: Hydrogen Sulfide reacting with Ethyl Alcohol
  • Microbial Faults
    • Brettanomyces – Barnyard, Horse Saddle, Antiseptic Ointment, Band-Aids, Bacon, Clove
      • Causes: spoilage yeast cells that are incredibly dangerous and difficult to eliminate. Most often found in contaminated barrels, winery cleanliness, resistant to acid and SO2
    • Geranium Taint – Fresh cut geranium leaves
      • Causes: Reaction of potassium sorbate with Lactic Acid Bacteria in the presence of Ethyl Alcohol
    • Refermentation – Fizzy wine, popped corks
      • Causes: Yeast or microbial fermentation of residual sugar
  • Other Faults
    • Cork Taint – Wet basement, wet old newspaper, mildew
      • Causes: strain of trichloanisole on cork (cork taint); mold that contacts chlorine and wood
    • Heat Damage – Cooked fruit smell, brick red color, similar to oxidation
      • Causes: leaving wine in a hot car, in the sun, etc.

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.