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Grapefest - Getting the Most from your Grapes

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  • Grapefest - Getting the Most from your Grapes


    The Virgin's Guide to Grapefest should tell you all you NEED to know about Grapefest, what to expect, and what equipment you'll need to make some grape wine. If you have never been to Grapefest, read that Guide first.

    Unless you live close to Bob and buy a considerable quantity of grapes, Grapefest is never going to be an exercise in making wine on a tight budget. Here I will give you some ideas to get the most mileage and value, and maybe even variety of wine styles) from the grapes that you do buy.

    This isn't a 'how to' tutorial - more a list of ideas which might prompt you to go and do some more research.

    At its simplest, you simply ferment the juice which is pressed from the crushed white grapes. There are a few things you could try:

    Different yeasts
    Maybe try batches with, say, Lalvin 71B-1122, D47 and K1V-1116 yeasts. This result in wines with differing characters.

    After the wine completes fermentation it is left on the lees, which are gently stirred back into the wine periodically. You need to choose the right yeast for this - Lalvin D47 is a good candidate. This can result is a more complex wine and more mouthfeel.

    Typically you would make your must more acidic, ferment and clear it, then bottle it in proper sparkling wine bottles with an exact amount of sugar. The subject is too complex to explain here, but is a great way of getting a 'different' result from the same grapes.
    see tutorial here


    Freezing the juice and then thawing half the volume (leaving water behind) can produce a very rich dessert style wine
    See tutorial here


    Different yeasts
    In my limited experience, I believe Lalvin K1V-116 produces a fruitier result and RC-212 give the wine a 'darker' character, but I stand to be corrected!

    Bleeding is the practice of removing some of the juice from red wine must. When the grapes are crushed, you will end up with a bucket of juice and skins. By removing some of the juice you increase the skin-to-juice ratio, and the result should be a more intense wine (albeit requiring more ageing). The juice you removed doesn't go to waste - you can make RosÚ from it.

    I'm sure most make rosÚ from Grapefest grapes as an afterthought, or not at all. For me it is a major part of the whole exercise.

    Generally speaking, I bleed off some of the juice before the must is innoculated with yeast, allow it to stand for 24 hours to allow some of the solids to drop out, rack off the clear(er) juice, increase the acidity a bit, then use D47 yeast to ferment.

    You might try bleeding off some juice soon after the grapes have been crushed, and some a little later, thus giving you two different intensities.

    Second Run
    This only applies to red grapes, because you'll be re-using the skins left over when you rack and press your fermenting (or fermented) wine.

    There is probably some colour and tannin you can extract from the skins, so why not make another batch of wine?

    The simplest way is to make up a sugar/water/nutrient mix to an SG of about 1.080, and about half the volume of the red wine you have just racked, and chuck in the grape skins left over from the pressing. You don't need yeast because the skins contain a large colony, and the fermentation should fire up rapidly. You will end up with a lighter version of the original wine, so this probably isn't worth doing if the first run produced a light-ish bodied wine.

    You can beef up the second-run wine by adding other ingredients such as red grape concentrate.

    I have tried making up a budget or mid-range red wine kit (minus the yeast), then added the skins to it. My results have been OK, but not spectacular.

    What worked really well for me last year was making up a Wine No.1 must, then adding the skins in a straining bag and leaving for about two days. This imparted plenty of colour to the must, and it kept fermenting strongly when I removed the straining bag. The result was a very quaffable, inexpensive, early drinking rosÚ. I used K1V-1116 yeast in the red, and this yeast works well for reds and whites, so it was suitable for the rosÚ. If you start with a red wine yeast, this may not work so well. In my opinion this is a better use for the skins than trying to make a second-run red or adding to a kit, but that is probably because I like full-bodied reds and I am partial to a decent rosÚ.

    Another success last year was my version of a Niagra Mist/Island Mist wine - a light fruit/grape wine. I made a tinned strawberry/raspberry must with a fairly low SG, aiming for about 8 or 9% alcohol, then added the grape skins in a straining bag and left it to ferment for a few days before removing the bag and racking to a carboy to complete the fermentation. Afterwards it was stabilised, sweetened to taste and bottled, producing a good, light 'barbeque' red.

    Frozen Skins
    If you have red grape skins left over from your second runs, or you just don't do any second runs, bag them up and chuck them in the freezer. The next time you make a budget or mid-range red kit, add lots of skins to give it more complexity, body and tannin. In theory, freezing the skins should kill the yeast, so you would use the kit's yeast.

    So there you go - some ideas for you to think about and develop.

    If you are a first-timer to Grapefest I would strongly recommend NOT trying to do everything - concentrate on your first runs, and try some of these ideas out only if time and resources permit.
    Last edited by goldseal; 19-05-2011, 10:36 AM.
    Pete the Instructor

    It looks like Phil Donahue throwing up into a tuba