Before I get into this month’s topic, I’d like to take a moment to discuss the various formats I have 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 the video takes a bit more effort, which I am happy to do if you like it. Let me know your preference by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My first blog about the wine making process took you through day 1. That was 2 months ago so to counter the fact that the primary fermentation only takes 14 to 16 days, take a trip in our time machine to the present. Over the past two weeks we’ve been checking on the progress of primary fermentation and “punching down” the kits with grape packs to ensure the yeast gets enough oxygen to do its job.
Before leaving primary fermentation, we ensure the wine has achieved a Specific Gravity (SG) to qualify for secondary fermentation. Each kit comes with specific instructions on the SG requirements and any other steps required at this stage.
Racking is performed on up to 3 batches at a time. Using self-priming siphons, siphoning is staggered to make the best use of our time. The siphons are place in the Primary Fermenter in such a way as to avoid the sediment that has accumulated at the bottom. Clean sterile glass carboys are placed on a trolley which is lined up with batches to be racked. Mother Nature does the heavy lifting and as the primary fermenters are tilted near the end and gravity gets as much of the good stuff as we can. Once all of the batches have been racked, we move the primary fermenters to the sink area where we manually strain the remaining liquids and return them to the carboys on the trolley. The carboys are topped up with water as required to ensure 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 place the discarded solids (grape skins, oak chips, elderflowers and other additives) into a bucket for composting. All the remaining contents from the Primary Fermenter are poured into a Consolidation Fermenter (more about this later). Each Primary Fermenter bag is rinsed and put into a plastic recycling container.
Each Primary Fermenter is thoroughly cleaned inside and out. A splash of sulphite solution is added to ensure that it remains sterile. The top shelves where the Primary Fermenters were located are wiped down with a bleach solution before they are returned to await their next batch.
At the end of the day we 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.
Next Month Step 3 – Fining