The old business adage is true. If you have experience, you make good decisions. How do you get experience? By making bad decisions.
We’ve adopted some steps that many home winemakers avoid in response to problems.
Most of the time we bottle wine without incident but from time to time, the wine that seemed perfectly clear will throw a sediment a month or so later. Now we rack from carboys into gallon jugs and rack five bottles at a time as I need them. Since I make wine at least twice a year (when the California grapes come in, when the local grapes are ready and in the spring for Chilean grapes,) this frees up some of the carboys.
The gallon jugs can also support bench trials or making a small batch of a blend or two.
Also, we use tasting corks (look like mushrooms) instead of conventional corks when we think they’ll be returned. If someone needs to keep a tasting cork to recork their (our) wine, that’s fine too. After a while, we may recork with conventional corks to free up the tasting ones.
This fall for several reasons, we crushed outside but had to press in the basement. After fermentation had almost concluded, we transferred the wet and dripping must not to the press but to a six-gallon pail I perforated with small holes. The ¼ inch holes are on the bottom and 1/3 of the way up the sides The pail was suspended over another pail and the liquid was allowed to run and then drip into the lower pail. The first six gallons of free run went into a carboy and the drier must was collected for pressing. It was all easier to work with, less mess and seemingly more free-run juice