Kevin adds juice concentrate to fermenter.
We started the California Chardonnay this weekend! While Chardonnay wines are being increasingly sought after as “naked” or fermented and/or aged in stainless steel rather than oak barrels, we decided this kit will be fermentation oaked with the included heavy French Oak shavings. On a process note, one of the things that George at the Winemaker’s Toy Store highly recommends is to fill your primary fermenter with water to the 23L mark after installing the spigot with its gaskets. We have made it a practice to do so and it paid off this time around. Within an inch of the 23L mark, the spigot started dripping from the outer gasket…..so we emptied the water into another bucket, fixed the spigot and checked again.
After finding a leak at the spigot, we transferred the “test” water to another bucket to re-install the spigot and test again.
Had we gotten the fermenter filled with our must or this problem occurred after fermentation began it would’ve been far more of a problem. Worried about wasting 23L of water?….we just fill our watering cans for our garden when done testing the fermenter for leaks. This also drills home another point that having too many buckets in your winery is not possible!
Tim mixing up the cleanser.
Kevin cleans the primary fermenter.
The kit items required for Primary fermentation. Clockwise from top left: French Oak shavings, yeast, 2 packets of bentonite, a clay used to help clarify the wine.
Bentonite mixed and dissolved in hot water.
Kevin adds juice concentrate to fermenter.
Tim rinses remaining concentrate out of bag with hot water.
Tim tops up fermenter to 6 gallons.
Tim stirs the must (juice concentrate, bentonite, and water).
Oak shavings are added.
The yeast is pitched….must becomes wine!
Stoddary Street Winery with Merlot in clearing, Chardonnay in primary fermentation.
Using a drill mounted mix-stir to remove CO2 produced by fermentation from the wine.
The Merlot is moving right along. We recently de-gassed and moved it into the clearing stage adding chitosan and keisol…..now it sits until mid July when we will bottle!
Kevin uses a wine thief/test cylinder and hydrometer to measure the final SG.
We’ve racked our Merlot from the Primary fermenter to a Better Bottle carboy for the Secondary fermentation.
Equipment for this step ready for cleaning and sanitizing.
While we likely won’t need them, Steve (volunteer winemaking assistant) cleans the glass marbles just in case we need them to take up any headspace in the carboy.
Carboy is full, enzyme blend added, and air lock installed for the next 10 days during which fermentation will finish. The enzyme will ensure the yeast have enough nutrients to complete the fermentation.
The purpose of racking is to take the wine off the sediment generated during the primary fermentation. The sediment contains primarily dead yeast and oak.
These are what’s left of the crushed grapes (from the crushed grape pack) after primary fermentation.
We will make one other kit this summer, a California Chardonnay. This is another kit by Cellar Craft…..part of their Sterling Collection. Grapefruit, green apple, and pear aromatics dominate the nose. The medium body is clean and crisp with flavours of green apple and citrus which continue through the wonderful finish. Since we already have a “naked” (un-oaked) white in the cellar, we will add toasted French oak to this wine.
We decided to start our adventures in wine making with wine kits as they are a great way to learn the process and understand the basic chemistry involved. That said, kits do not allow the home winemaker to work with the actual fruit…..a process that requires more in-depth monitoring and control of chemistry (wine kit concentrates are balanced by the manufacturer). They also do not allow the winemaker as much creativity in regards to wine style and varietal (or blend) beyond what they offer in kits; no matter how extensive the product line. So be watching this Fall, we will be trying a small batch of wine from sourced grapes as well as an Apple wine made from scratch using cider sourced from the Godard’s Red Hen Farm / Mineral Hills winery. Larry and Susan have created a wonderful winery and craft some absolutely beautiful wines…..including mead and apple (sourced from their farm). If you live in or visit western Massachusetts, a Mineral Hills tasting should be on your to do list!
No matter what we try next, kits will always be part of our winemaking simply because unlike harvested fruit which comes around but once a year, we can get and run a wine kit ANY time of year when the winemaking bug bites!
Crushed grape skin bag is now floating, thermometer on the right, hydrometer on the left, floating very low in the now less dense wine.
We checked the SG of the wine after KRide yesterday, it is now well below 1 at 0.996. The brew belt has been removed and we will be able to rack it to a Better Bottle carboy for secondary fermentation this week.