What does racking your wine mean? Racking or siphoning your wine is done to remove solids that have settled in the bottom of the Primary Fermenter.
In my first blog about the winemaking process, I took you through step 1 – starting fermentation. Primary fermentation only takes 14 to 16 days so take a trip in our time machine to the present. For the past two weeks we’ve been checking on the progress of primary fermentation and “punching down” the kits with grape packs so the yeast gets enough oxygen to do its job.
Wine needs to achieve a specific gravity (SG) before secondary fermentation can begin. Each kit comes with specific instructions on the SG requirements and any other steps required at this stage.
We’ll rack up to 3 batches at a time. Using self-priming siphons, we’ll stagger siphoning to make the best use of our time. Siphons in the Primary Fermenter are placed carefully so we avoid sediment that has accumulated at the bottom. Lining up clean, sterile glass carboys on a trolley, we’ll place them below batches to be racked. Mother Nature will do the heavy lifting. The Primary Fermenters are tilted near the end so gravity gets as much of the good stuff as we can. Once we’ve racked all of the batches, we’ll move the Primary Fermenters to the sink area. Here’s where we’ll manually strain the remaining liquids and return them to the carboys on the trolley. We may need to top up the carboys with water so there is minimal exposure to air which can oxidize your wine.
You’re going to see a theme happening in these back room blogs … here comes the cleanup …
We’ll place the discarded solids (grape skins, oak chips, elderflowers and other additives) into a bucket for composting. Then we’ll pour all the remaining contents from the Primary Fermenter into a Consolidation Fermenter (more about this later). We’ll rinse each Primary Fermenter bag before putting it into a plastic recycling container.
Clean each Primary Fermenter thoroughly, inside and out is next. A splash of sulphite solution is added to ensure it remains sterile. Staff wipe down the top shelves with a bleach solution before Primary Fermenters are returned to await their next batch.
At the end of the day we’ll add baking soda to the Consolidation Fermenter and take a PH reading. We’re required to adjust the PH to an acceptable level and to report daily to Metro Vancouver. Adding the appropriate amount of baking soda ensures we remain environmentally responsible.
Cleanliness to make sure your wine is the best it can be and being environmentally friendly are a few of our top priorities.
Before I get into next month’s topic, I’d like to take a moment to discuss the various formats I’ve been using for my monthly blogs. For the most part I’ve been using a combination of words and pictures but Step 1 of the process was done as a video. Producing videos take a bit more effort, which I’m happy to do if you like so let me know your preference by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Month Crafting your Wine Step 3 – Fining.