RJ Cole Winery

Insights into the world of an amateur home winemaker.

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Cole Wines anagrams to Senile Cow.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

June 11th, 2006 - The Day of The Winemaking Work

Good grief! I worked my tail off yesterday on various wine projects! I don't know if there's enough space in this blog to hold all the info of what I did!

Okay, I exaggerate. But there was a lot of wine work going on. It actually all started on Saturday when I made a trip to Alternative Beverage to pick up some new supplies. I grabbed a new auto-siphon (the one I used for transferring the strawberry wine somehow didn't get cleaned quickly enough and had dried pulp on the inside, which I could not get out. So I decided it was time to invest in a new one, along with a length of siphon tubing for racking. I also picked up a glass Wine Thief (which is kind of like a really big pipette - a tube that you stick in the wine and cover the top with your thumb to draw out a sample for testing), a new 5 gallon carboy and a case of 750 mL Cobalt Blue Hock Style Bottles and a case of 375 mL Cobalt Blue Hock Style Bottles. I also rented a Buon Vino Mini-Jet Filter in order to try to help clarify my Pumpkin Wine.

When I got home, FedEx had come and delivered my Mity-Vac.

The Mini-jet filter pumps the wine automatically through it's filters, which are pads of different levels of Microns to allow pass through of the wine and to stop the particles in the wine. On Saturday, I ran the Pumpkin Wine through the #1 filter pads, which are the coarse pads and trap the bigger particles, allowing smaller ones to pass through. This made an amazing difference in the clarity and appearance of the wine. I was very very pleased!

Then on Sunday, I started the Day of The Winemaking Work by using the pump on the mini-jet to rack my Strawberry Wine off the fine lees. I started by crushing 5 Campden Tablets and dissolving them in a bit of water and pouring this solution into the carboy, and finished by topping up the new 5 gallon carboy of racked Strawberry Wine with some extra I had been storing in a gallon jug. The only problem with using the mini-jet to rack this was it seemed like a lot of air got into the wine. But remember that I received my handy new Mity-Vac! I attached that to the carboy and started pumping, pulling a lot of bubbles out. I think this wine is almost completely degassed.

Next, I cleaned and sanitized the carboy which had previously held the Strawberry Wine. I added in a solution of 5 crushed Campden Tablets to this, as well. Then I used a #3, or .5 micron, filter pad on the mini-jet to filter the Pumpkin Wine again. The #3 pads are called "Sterile" and allow on the finest, tiniest particles through. This polished the wine so brilliantly that you could read a book through it!

The instructions for the mini-jet are to wait 2 to 4 days between filtering, but since I was renting the machine, I didn't have that kind of time.

I next put an airlock on the new carboy of this wine, then cleaned and sanitized the carboy which had held the Pumpkin Wine, and cleaned the mini-jet and its hoses.

Then I decided to go ahead and start my new kit - the Chilean Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. I started by sanitizing my primary bucket and a long handled spoon. I put in about a half gallon of warm water, then sprinkled in package number 1 from the kit, which is Bentonite (a clay powder which aides in clearing the wine). Following this, I poured in the contents of the juice bag, added cool water to the bag to rinse it out, and poured that into the bucket. Then I added just a bit of water to get the must to 6 gallons. I measured the SG which was at 1.096 - right where it should be (I believe that's around 12.75% abv.) I opened the 4 packets of oak that came with the kit (2 packets of French Oak Chips and 2 packets of toasted oak dust) and sprinkled them into themust, and stirred them under as best as I could. The dust kept floating back to the surface, so I checked Winepress for advice (since the instructions said to stir the oak under the surface) and learned that it was alright for the dust to float. Then I sprinkled the yeast on top of the must, put a lid on loosely, set the whole bucket in a trash bag which I tied over the top (in order to prevent any messy spills which could come with fermentation) and set it in the closet.

Whew! After cleaning my Hydrometer and Wine Thief, I was finally done. I sat back and enjoyed a nice glass of La Conreria de Scalia Dei Priorat wine to admire my day's handiwork. I'll have to stir the Carm/Cab daily for the next few days and check the SG.

It was a wonderful day of working with the wine. I really enjoy having my hands busy with this hobby!

Pumpkin filtered with #1 and #3 filters - buon vino mini-jet
Strawberry Racked and degassed with mity-vac
Carm/Cab started - problems!!! 1.096 starting SG. (Pablo Neruda)


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