RJ Cole Winery

Insights into the world of an amateur home winemaker.

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Cole Wines anagrams to Senile Cow.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Pumpkin Wine Photos

Finally! Here they are:

Here's what the wine is primarily made of.

And here's the beginning and the ending stages!

Here's all the ingredients that need to go into this to make it work!

"Mmmm... Pumpkin Wine!"

Rehydrating the yeast!

Pumpkin Wine Photos 2


Primary Fermentation in the closet!

Another photo of the primary fermentation.

Ready for transfer! SG is down to 1.010 and it's time to move things over!


Transferring. Notice the autosiphon. Makes things easy!

Pumpkin Wine Photos 3

Last ones for now!

Transfer Complete!

This is what 22.5 pounds of pumpkin meat looks like after fermentation! Notice the size compared to the 2 cup measuring cup!

The Pumpkin wine is in the Secondary and ready to go!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Working with Wine

Last night I deicded to do some new work with my wines. This was an easy decision since it's still early in the process for my Merlot, and I'm having to check on that on a daily basis. Here's what I did:

1)Sanitized new 5 gallon carboy, autosiphon, and racking tube.
2)Nearly broke back carrying 5 gallon carboy of Pumpkin Wine to counter and lifting it to set on top of counter.
3)Racked Pumpkin Wine into new 5 gal. carboy.
a)I left a little bit of wine in the old carboy to try to keep from transferring too much sediment.
b)I added 5 crushed Campden Tablets, 1 1/4 tsp ascorbic acid, and 1 1/4 tsp Stabilizer.
c)I topped up with some Pumpkin Wine I had left over from the previous racking which had been stored in the fridge.
4)Put in a fresh bung and airlock.

1)Sanitized 6 gallon carboy, autosiphon, and racking tube.
2)Nearly broke back carrying 6 gallon primary bucket of Merlot to counter and lifting it to set on top of counter (while catching my jeans pocket on a cabinet door knob.)
3)Racked Merlot into 6 gallon carboy.
a)Instructions indicated to leave most of the sediment behind, so I left a little bit of wine.
b)Per instructions, no additives added at this time.
4)Put in fresh and sanitized bung and airlock.

-It might take quite a while for that Pumpkin Wine to be any good. I took a taste of it and I think I may have used too much ginger. It was very gingery tasting, and still quite "hot". One of the suggestions I've read on Winepress is to add a can of Welch's White Grape concentrate before the final racking, so I'll ty that and see if it mellows the wine out any. I hope it will!

-The Pumpkin Wine is starting to clear very nicely. After racking, it was almost possible to see through it. I also shook the carboy to make sure the additives got mixed in well, and to see if any bubbles arose, indicating CO2 and showing a need to degass. Only a very minimal amount of bubbles showed, and that may have been from oxygen getting into the wine during the racking and the shaking. Without any extra CO2 in there, more sediment should start falling out easily. This will further help to clear the wine, getting me that much closer to bottling.

-The Merlot tasted delicious! I had to check the SG to make sure it was time to rack it. The instructions on the kit say to wait 5-7 days and check the SG to make sure it's down to no higher than 1.010. The SG I measured was only slightly above 1.000, which meant it was time to rack! This lowered SG (down from OG of 1.070) meant that most of the sugar had converted to Alcohol (thanks, yeasties!), which as young as it is, imparts a differnt taste than it did just a couple of days ago. It didn't taste nearly as good, but that's just because the wine hasn't had time to "live together" (as Kat likes to say) and have it's separate components begin to complement each other to become a well-balanced wine. It'll get there soon enough.

-I discovered that my 6 gallon carboy is more likely a 6.5 gallon carboy. The instructions said to leave most of the sediment behind, so I left a little bit of wine, but not very much at all. If I had used all of the wine, the level in the carboy would still not be near the neck of the carboy. My primary bucket is clearly marked where 6 gallons of wine should be. That's where I started off. The carboy, being previously 6 gallons, should have only had a minimal amount of head space left. This means I'll have to go to Alternative Beverage again sometime and get a 6 gal carboy to make sure future wine turn out alright (since I'm adding ingredients for this to measure a certain level.) This shouldn't be a problem for now, as the wine is still fermenting and thus producing CO2 to push the oxygen off the wine. I'll be transferring this to a 5 gallon Carboy in about a week anyway.

So that's about it for today! I'm really excited about both of these, and I'm ready to start thinking about the next wine. What should I do this time? I'm thinking about maybe finding a Rioja kit if that's within my budget. I'll keep you posted.


Monday, January 23, 2006


This past weekend I finally got started on my Merlot Kit that Kat got me for my Birthday. It was extremely easy. All I had to do was clean all the equipment, then start off with a half gallon of hot water to which I added Bentonite. I stirred that up really well, then poured in the bag of juice. After that, I added another half gallon of water to the juice bag to rinse it out and make sure I got all the grape-y goodness out of the bag and I poured that into the Primary bucket. Next, I filled the bucket up to the 6 gallon mark with cool water, sprinkled the yeast on (the instructions did not say anything about making a yeast starter) and then Put on the lid and the airlock.

That took about a half hour on Saturday afternoon. By yesterday afternoon, the airlock was bubbling a lot, letting me know the yeasties are having a big party in there! Have fun, little yeasts! Do what you do best!

Starting SG was 1.070 which is about 10% abv. That was the only measurement I took, since the kit-makers have been doing this for a long time and have all kinds of labs and procedures to make sure they sell a good product.

This is a 4-6 week kit, meaning that the wine will be ready by then, although they suggest letting it age - the instructions say at least one month, but it will be even better after 3 months. All the folks at Winepress say that, like fresh fruit wine, it will continue to get better the longer it goes. So I may have to taste it at 3 months, 6 months, and a year to decide which is the best! This should give me about 30 750 mL bottles.

I'm excited about this one, but it did seem a little too easy. I guess the hard work at the beginning of the fresh fruit wines is actually rather enjoyable. But then, that's pretty normal for anything that you put time and effort into. Once the finished product is ready, and it turns out good, you can take pride in all your energy producing something great. I'm sure this merlot will taste good, but the Pumpkin and the Blackberry may taste a little sweeter for my work.


Monday, January 09, 2006

I'm back!

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I've been busy with a lot of things, and lazy when not busy!

The holidays were great! I got to spend time with mom and dad, and Andy, Jen and Emery over Christmas. I think I might get to be the "cool uncle" after all!

Well, since this is a wine blog, I'll tell what happened to me wine-related over the past month or so. For my birthday on Dec. 19th, Kat got me a Merlot Kit. This has everything you need to make a batch of Merlot except the fermenters, carboys, bottles, etc. I can't wait to get started on it. I may go ahead and do that while my pumpkin wine is aging.

For Christmas, Andy got me some wooden "medallions" with "RJ Cole Winery" burned into them (he got to use his new work toy, a laser! The future is today!) these were awesome and look great. He put a burgundy ribbon through a small hole on many of them so I can put them around thenecks of my wines. I've tried it on a few already, and it looks great!

Kat got me a Portugese Floor Corker for Christmas. This will make it very easy to bottle the wine - you can do it with one hand! The other corker I had was very tough to operate, and there was always the chance of knocking the bottle over. This new corker will be great!

We opened a couple of bottles of my blackberry while I was home. I think everyone enjoyed it (although I think it might have been a little strong for Jen.) No worries though, that was my first batch ever, and I still have a lot of learning todo even now. I also left of couple of bottle at home for mom and dad to give out.

And that was the holidays for me!

Now for an update on the pumpkin wine: I haven't been doing anything with it at all. I've checked on it a few times, and it looks like it's starting to clear at the top. It's going to have a really nice color when it's cleared all the way - very amber looking.

I'm thinking about racking it again sometime soon to try to get out some more of the sediment in it. That should help it clear more quickly.

Well, that's it for now! I promise those photos are coming soon.