Variety focus: La Crescent

La Crescent grape

What you need to know about La Crescent

  • Created at the University of Minnesota in 2002.
  • Excellent cold hardiness, and usually harvested mid-season.

Tasting profile

  • Apricot, pineapple, citrus, tropical, floral

Growing La Crescent

  • Its leaves are very susceptible to downy mildew, though the fruit is quite resistant.
  • It is a very vigorous vine.

What yeast to use for La Crescent

  • Lalvin C, SVG, 71B, which can all help to lower TA, as may be needed.

Fermenting and aging tips

  • Can make a variety of wine styles easily.
  • Significant malic acid in this variety – be aware of this.

Variety focus: Vidal Blanc

Vidal Blanc grape

What you need to know about Vidal Blanc

  • French-American hybrid created from a cross of Ugni Blanc (vinifera) and Rayon d’Or (hybrid).
  • Commonly used to make ice wine, but also makes a great still or sparkling wine. Known for its stylistic versatility.
  • Originally created with the intention of being used for cognac production.

Tasting profile

  • Tropical, pear, citrus, candied fruit, melon, mango, lychee, honeysuckle.

Growing Vidal

  • Thick skinned and cold hardy, which makes this variety ideal for the ice wine it is renowned for because it can stay on the vine long enough to freeze without becoming overripe or falling off the vine.
  • Highly susceptible to powdery mildew and anthracnose, botrytis, and mildly susceptible to downy mildew.

Late harvest Vidal Blanc still awaiting harvestime

What yeast to use for Vidal

  • Alchemy, BA11, DV10, M2, Vin13

Fermenting and aging tips

  • Generally higher acidity; deacidification may be needed pre-fermentation.
  • May have difficulty getting through MLF if pH is too low.

Grow your own: backyard vineyard

Planting a backyard vineyard can be a daunting task and depending on how much work you want to put into it and the size of the vineyard, it’s definitely possible that it will end up taking up a lot more time than you had even anticipated. But – it is so worth it when you get to make wine from the literal fruits of your labor!

Making sure vine rows are straight is important!

You may want to just get some vines into the ground and see what happens in the coming years, or you may be planning out dimensions, estimated yield, trellissing and pruning strategies as you daydream at your day job. Either way, you are going to need a core understanding and essential equipment to best plan and install your backyard vineyard in spring.

Research the below topics in as much detail as possible before planting your backyard vineyard. You will be making a lot of decisions and each decision you make will affect all other decisions that follow. Have a solid answer to the following questions:

  • What is the soil type? Are there nutrient deficiencies (or excesses?) Climate and micro-climate of the chosen location? Slope and direction the vines will be planted in? Will you need to amend the soil at all and if so, how?
  • What grapes will grow best in these conditions? (And are these varieties you even have an interest in growing?
  • How will the vines be planted? (Shovel, post hole digger, PTO-driven tractor mounted post hole digger?)
  • Will you plant an inter-row cover crop?
  • Is an irrigation system something that is needed?
  • Which disease pressures are you most likely to encounter, and what are you open to spraying in order to combat it?
  • What trellissing system, inter row spacing, and between vine spacing are you interested in doing?

Example of a newly planted backyard vineyard

Helpful tips from those who have done it:

  • Work hard to get your shoot (which will become the trunk) as straight as possible. This isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s about practicality. Regardless of whether you’ll be going through the rows with a tractor, you’ll still likely be going through with a mower; having trunks that lean out into the row can be a disaster waiting to happen. Consider using metal rods as opposed to bamboo shoots – there’s less potential for breakage over the first couple of years.
  • If you will be using a tractor, make sure you leave plenty of room in the headlands (the space surrounding the vineyard where you will be turning the tractor around after riding through each row) – without ample space, you’ll find yourself unable to turn into the next row!
  • Amend your soils before. It’s impossible to incorporate amendments to the soil post-planting in the same capacity as pre-planting.
  • Don’t just plant grapes that will grow – plant grapes that will grow AND that you care about! You’ll be a lot more excited about caring for your Cayuga grapes if you enjoy making Cayuga wine, as opposed to feeling lackluster about your Seyval grapes if you don’t actually enjoy making Seyval wine, as an example.

Despite the fact that vines can always be removed if need be, vineyards in and of themselves are pretty permanent perennial structures. They’re not going anywhere unless they die or you rip them out. So do as solid a job as possible when you are putting in the initial work. Trying to fix mistakes made in the creation of the vineyard after the fact are so much more difficult to navigate as opposed to putting in that little bit of extra work at the onset and doing it right.

Look over the questions posed above, be certain you have solid answers and reasoning behind each one, and you’re well on your way to having your very own homemade wine, from vine to bottle. Cheers and happy planning and planting!

How to Avoid a Stuck Fermentation during the Spring Wine Harvest

How to avoid a stuck fermentation

winemaking-wine must-how to make wine-winemaking instructions-musto wine grape

How can you tell if you have a stuck fermentation?

  • Your wine is stuck at 2-5 Brix for more than a few days
  • Your wine tastes very sweet

What causes a stuck fermentation?

  • High sugar levels – 26+ Brix
  • High fermentation temperatures
  • Low nutrient levels
  • Must not punched down or mixed during fermentation
  • Inncorrect yeast strain

So.. how can you avoid it? 

  • If you have high Brix you can water back your must
  • You can ice down your must with dry ice or frozen water jugs
  • Add the correct amount of nutrients during fermentation
  • Punch down and mix must reguarly
  • Research and add the appropriate yeast

Not using yeast? Doing a native ferment? Here are some tips to avoid a stuck fermentation

  • Keep cellar CLEAN – the cleaner the cellar the less bacteria has the opportunity to flourish and kill your batch
  • Check your Brix and make sure they are manageable, if high, water back
  • Keep track of your fermentation temperatures
  • Keep the temperature in your winemaking cellar as constant as possible

A stuck fermentation can be painful. We highly suggest you take the neccessary steps to avoid it!

Need to fix your stuck fermentation? Check out our video on WinemakingInstructions.com and this Fixing a Stuck Fermentation Blog Post.

For exact measurements and instructions, follow the directions on the manufacturer’s packaging, contact a winemaker at Musto Wine Grape Company for assistance, or download our Full Class offering at WinemakingInstructions.com.

We’re here to help when you need it

As stated above, Musto Wine Grape offers a variety of products as well as services including testing and support. Email winemaker@juicegrape.com or call (877) 812 – 1137 to speak with someone who can assist you.

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing in Winemaking

What is the difference between Cleaning vs. Sanitizing?

This is a discussion we have with customers constantly. Cleaning your equipment means that you have removed all of the visible dirt and residue on your equipment. Sanitizing means you have treated your equipment with a chemical solution that will eliminate, or prevent the growth of spoilage organisms. You MUST clean your equipment before sanitizing the equipment, since you cannot properly sanitize equipment with visible residue on it.

Below is a video from our online classes – WinemakingInstructions.com that talks about and shows you step by step how to clean and sanitize your equipment.

Interested in making your own wine? Musto Wine Grape Company is here to help! Musto’s New England’s largest supplier for home winemaking products and services. Visit juicegrape.com or give us a call at (877) 812 – 1137 to learn more.



Product Spotlight: Crusher Destemmer

You’ve got your fresh wine grapes in tow, and now its time to make some wine! If you don’t take advantage of our crush and destem service, you’ll have to crush and destem your grapes. We offer a variety of crushers, and crusher-destemmers to fit any winemaking project. We’ll cover some of our top options to help you determine which one suits you best! The most popular crusher destemmer is the stainless steel electric crusher destemmer. With an electric motor that does all the elbow work featuring an all stainless steel assembly, it is corrosion resistant and will last you for many winemaking seasons to come.

Crusher Destemmer

Stainless Steel Electric Crusher Destemmer

This crusher destemmer is motorized, with a stainless steel hopper and body. It has an hourly production rate of 1,500kg (about 3,330lbs). Its electric motor is 100volts/1hp, and it’s dimensions are 100 x 550 x 580h mm. The hopper dimensions are 900 x 460 mm and it has a removable protection box. This piece of equipment is a great investment for a winemaker who has plans to crush and destem an average of 50 or more lugs of grapes. With proper cleaning and storage, this machine will last a winemaking lifetime! We also carry the matching stand for our crusher destemmers, in both painted and stainless steel.

If the stainless steel crusher destemmer is a bit out of your winemaking budget, we carry one nearly identical but that is painted:


Electric Crusher Destemmer with Painted Hopper and Body

All the specs are identical to the stainless steel crusher destemmer except for the fact that this one is painted steel. The downfall of this machine is that it is susceptible to corrosion if not cleaned and stored properly. With proper cleaning and storage, it will surely last you many years. If you’re looking for something in the middle, we have that too!

Crusher Destemmer

Electric Crusher Destemmer with Stainless Steel Hopper and Painted Body

If you’re looking for a slightly more budget-friendly crusher destemmer with that boost of corrosion protection, this stainless steel hopper, painted body crusher destemmer is perfect. Once again you’ve got identical specs to our other options above, without having to compromise too much on either advantage of corrosion protection or budget.

If you are a home winemaker with less than 50 lugs of grapes on average and a smaller equipment budget, we also carry manual grape crushers and crusher destemmers. They come in the same options as our electric crusher destemmers including fully stainless steel, fully painted, or stainless steel hopper/painted body.

Crusher destemmer

Stainless Steel Manual Crusher Destemmer

The Grifo hand powered crusher destemmer has a hopper size of 900 x 500 mm, and the Aluminum rollers are 220 mm. The hourly production rate is about 700-800kg (1500-1750lbs) and is a great option for a winemaker processing up to about 50 lugs of grapes and is looking for corrosion protection.

Painted and Stainless/Painted Manual Crusher Destemmer

With the same specs as the stainless steel but more wallet friendly, the painted and stainless manual crusher destemmer is a great option.


With lots of options to choose from, Musto Wine Grape has your winemaking needs taken care of.


Interested in making your own wine? Musto Wine Grape Company is here to help! Musto’s New England’s largest supplier for home winemaking products and services. Visit juicegrape.com or give us a call at (877) 812 – 1137 to learn more.

Top 7 Winemaking Tips for the Spring Harvest

The Spring Harvest is underway! It’s time to get yourself set up for your Spring fermentations.

  1. Plan out your batch

    1. What kind of wine do you want to make?
    2. Review your ferementation notes from previous seasons
    3. Taste wines from Chile and South Africa for inspiration
  2. Review how to adjust your must

    1. Adjusting your Brix, TA, and pH
    2. Take an online class if need a referesher
  3. If making wine from juice, decide on Fresco vs. Non Fresco Juices

  4. Decide on the type of yeast you want to use

    1. For Chilean grapes we always suggest using the CSM yeast
    2. For Pinotage grapes we suggest using D254 yeast

    1. Give us a call at 877-812-1137 or email us at sales@juicegrape.com
  6. Think about the temperatures in your cellar

    1. Do you need extra heat?
    2. Do you need AC?
  7. Keep an eye on the Harvest Tracker for updates on the Spring Harvest

    1. Harvest Tracker

Interested in making your own wine? Musto Wine Grape Company is here to help! Musto’s New England’s largest supplier for home winemaking products and services. Visit juicegrape.com or give us a call at (877) 812 – 1137 to learn more.

How to Make Syrah Wine from Chilean Wine Grapes

Chilean Syrah from Colchagua Valley has received high praise from publications like Wine Enthusiast, earning 93+pts. It’s a wine variety that is often overlooked from Chile and is a wine worth making this season. Chilean Syrah boasts flavors of plum, wild berry, and earth aromas. I highly suggest introducing this wine to oak barrels or an oak infusion. The medium acidity and powerful aromas are complemented by the French Oak flavor profile.

Yeast Suggestion: CSM yeast

Oak Suggestion: French oak barrels or chips

Wine Flavor Profile: Bold, medium tannins, blackberry, plum, wild berry, leather, smoke, chocolate, and oak

How to Make Syrah Wine from Chilean Wine Grapes:

  1. Crush Syrah grapes into a sanitized bin or tub. (Each 18lb crate will make 1.25 gals of finished wine).
  2. Apply 50ppm of Potassium Metabisulfite and stir well. Allow to sit for 8-12 hours.
  3. Apply .5ml of Color Pro Pectic enzyme per box diluted into a 10% solution with water to the must and stir. Allow to sit for another 8-12 hours.
  4. Mix Booster Rouge, FT Rouge, and Opti-Red, with spring water until it is the consistency of pancake batter and pour over top of crushed grapes. Mix in well.
  5. Add rehydrate CSM yeast (1g/gal) with Go Ferm rehydration nutrient and warm water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes and pour over top of crushed grapes.
  6. Punch down grapes 3 times per day throughout the duration of fermentation and monitor temperature and Brix levels daily. Use a hydrometer to test sugar content in a strained juice sample. Make sure the temperature does not exceed 85F.
  7. One day after adding the yeast, add Fermaid O, mixed with spring water into the pancake batter style slurry. Dump into grapes during a punch down.
  8. After the depletion of 1/3 of the Brix (when the Brix level is between 16-11), add Fermaid O that is mixed with spring water into the pancake batter style slurry. Dump into to grapes at a punch down.
  9. Add Malo-lactic bacteria the same day as the Fermaid K. If you are using liquid cultures, just pour over the grape must and mix. If you use the dry cultures, rehydrate them in warm spring water according to their specific directions, utilizing any rehydration nutrients recommended.
  10. When the Brix have dropped below zero, press the wine into a sanitized tank, carboy, or demijohn. Make sure the vessel is topped up all the way to the top of the neck and sealed properly with a bung and airlock.
  11. Rack after 48 hours and then again in a week. Allow MLF to complete before adding sulfites.
  12. Allow the wine to age and rack it every 2 months and add sulfites when racking.
  13. Add oak infusion after 2nd or 3rd racking. Taste test along the way until the oak profile is where you want it to be.


Interested in making your own wine? Musto Wine Grape Company is here to help! Musto’s New England’s largest supplier for home winemaking products and services. Visit juicegrape.com or give us a call at (877) 812 – 1137 to learn more.

What is Bud Break?

Happy first day of Spring Winemakers!

Our California grapes are starting to go through bud break.

Here is a nice view of our Cry Baby Thompson Seedless and Grenache grapes “waking up” 🍇

What is Bud Break?

Bud break is the start of the grape vine’s annual cycle. It is a relaxing time in the vine’s life as long as they don’t experience any intense weather occurrences, such as frost. Frost can kill the buds or delay their growth.

Check out what Bud Break looks like in Chile! (link)

Interested in making your own wine? Musto Wine Grape Company is here to help! Musto’s New England’s largest supplier for home winemaking products and services. Visit juicegrape.com or give us a call at (877) 812 – 1137 to learn more.

Product Spotlight: CSM Yeast

csm yeast

Product Spotlight: CSM Yeast

CSM yeast was derived from Bordeaux and helps create a vibrant aromatic profile. CSM aids in adding complexity to the palate and pairs well with malolactic fermentation.

Why you want to use it:

It’s the perfect yeast for the Chilean fruit. It reduces vegetal aromas, adds complexity, stabilizes color, and helps increase the aromatic profiles of berries and spices.

Use Tips:

Fermentation starts quickly with this yeast. Be prepared to see Brix drop 24 hours after inoculation. It can stand up 14% ABV and can handle temperatures from 59–90°F. However, I highly suggest keeping your fermentation temps lower than 75°F. Once you hit 80°F you lose aromas and “burn off” flavors. Keeping your wine between 59–75°F during fermentation is a best practice.

You also want to use nutrients when using CSM; nutrients such as Fermaid-O and Fermaid-K. CSM tends to produce H2S (rotten egg smell) if there aren’t enough nutrients during fermentation.

Avoid cold shocking the yeast at inoculation. You’ll want to get the must and the yeast starter within a few degrees of each other before pitching the yeast starter. But without temperatures falling lower than 55°F. Temps below 55°F could stall fermentation and/or kill the yeast.

Goes best with:

CSM was cultivated to help ferment Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Merlot, Sangiovese, Petit Verdot. However, we have seen it used on Carmenere, Malbec, and Syrah from Chile with great results.



Flavor Profile:

Cherry pit, raspberry, blackberry, spice, violet, bark, and sweet pepper


Ready to make wine? Musto Wine Grape Company is here to help you make the wine of your dreams! The Spring South African & Chilean winemaking season starts soon! Secure your winemaking grapes or juices and give us a call at (877) 812-1137 to speak with one of our Musto Crush Crew members. We can get you set up with everything you need and provide customer support along the way to ensure your success!