…And we’re off! We had our first winemaking session on Sunday, using 100kg samples from across all fruit blocks and the results look good. On top of this, we had our first Rent-A-Row crush and a few collections and it would seem that it’s all systems go for harvest. We will continue picking for ourselves tomorrow and we are lining up collections and deliveries as we speak. ICYMI, we plan to pick most of our grapes between tomorrow, the 17th of Feb and the 6th of March, so get your orders in if you haven’t already.
First crush was a great success, I pitched the yeast last night and the plunging has begun. Already seeing some great colour and smells from the vat.
Our readings for this first vat, (400L, from across the vineyard) was a 13.6 Baumè (after correction) and a pH of 3.7. Other customers have also reached a Baumè of 13.5 in the vat, which is the earliest we’d pick Shiraz but ideal for small berries flavours and nice wines.
We’ve receive a few questions from time to time about winemaking and tips and tricks and we must apologise for being so awfully slow at replying. We’re so busy with everything else up until harvest time it’s hard to keep our head in the game. However, with my background in science I’ve been taking more notes and doing more research so I’d be happy to field questions if you have them. Feel free to comment below or to email me with any questions. If we have enough interest, I’ll add a winemaking section to our site to display and discuss all things winemaking! Here’s a couple of responses to get us started.
(There isn’t really a right and a wrong to winemaking, but most winemakers think they are right, and will tell you as much. I am generally no different, but listen to a lot of winemakers opinions so I’ll try to respond as neutrally as I can for your benefit).
What yeast do you use for primary fermentation… and what temperature?
My question is…what type of yeast do you use for primary fermentation? Do you have a preferred strain which has given you good results? Or is this not too critical in the overall scheme of things? Also, at what temperature do you ferment?
There isn’t really a lot of variation to the strains of winemaking yeast, just a lot of brands. We use a premium strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is readily available, has high alcohol tolerance and excels in colour retention which is key. Most red wine yeast will be suitable for the alcohol, but you may want to choose based on its nutrient requirement, tolerances and other characteristics.
We, like most home winemakers, don’t have a lot of control over temperature, but we generally try to keep it going at around room temperature (25 degrees), which is optimum for the yeast we use. Varying temperature can cause differences in ester production, which is something I am interested in more for brewing beer but have otherwise not explored in wine. – Spencer
Should I Inoculate for my Malolactic Fermentation?
in Europe, I didn’t need to use malolactic cultures; theML fermentation occurred reliably and spontaneously – what’s your experience with your grapes coming in from your vineyards – should I inoculate or can I rely on existing microflora?
Malolactic always seems to be a slow event here for me. It may be easier with the earlier season as the temperature of the wine will stay in the active zone longer.
I’ve usually used some ML bacteria to get the process going, but that’s mostly because I don’t want to leave it to chance. – Brian
This will also depend on whether or not you’ve used Sulphur to kill the active yeast and bacteria before starting your fermentation. In the past we’ve added Malo bugs after pressing off into our vats, but as Dad’s mentioned, this can be slow if the temperature is cool. Co-inoculating at the start of the primary ferment can be tricky, but we had good results inoculating mid-way through the primary ferment (a few days before pressing off), to make sure our wine went through its Malo ferment. – Spencer