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  4. Don’t be discouraged by a bad batch of wine. As an amateur winemaker, I may have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. My first wine was from juice fermented in the same 6-gallon bucket it came in. A little yeast, a new lid with an airlock and winemaking was underway. It was palatable and red and dry and alcoholic but not outstanding. Then I discovered that the local Homebrew Emporium carried Winexpert kits that made a very drinkable Chardonnay and it extended my winemaking season to year-round. One batch of Sangiovese made with juice and grocery store grapes won a gold medal in a Winemaker Magazine competition and a Chardonnay won a local competition and I was convinced I could make wine. I got pretty good at two complementary tasks: blending wines to make a really good beverage and diagnosing wine faults. Both skills resulted from producing wines that needed a little help. I’ve had to deal with over and under-sulfited wines, vinegar bacteria, hydrogen sulfide, corked wine and color fading. Some we win. Some we don’t. As blending goes, we typically get grapes from California in the fall (like half a ton) and lesser amounts in late May from the Southern Hemisphere. Lately, I’ve discovered that blending a tannic wine like Carnellian with a Malbec or Carmenere that may still have a little “green pepper” quality to it can produce a good balanced wine that would normally not be found in nature. @Garagist
  5. "Lucy, I'm home!" Ricky Ricardo used to call to his wife on the show, "I Love Lucy." Few younger folk remember that show from the 50's but they remember Lucille Ball stomping grapes. Many people have grape stomping on their bucket lists. My winemaking partner Lucas and I produce a public grape stomping at the Hill at Muza a beer garden in Troy, NY once a year. Just as the winemaking hobby takes on a life of its own and threatens to grow to absurd dimensions so has this event. This has grown from grapes, some local, some donated and some bought stomped in half whiskey barrels to this year's 900 pound wine bath in a galvanized stock tank 6 feet across. Hundred of people come and it's hard to stay serious for too long. For us, it's several hours of discussing home winemaking with people who seem fascinated with the process. We explain many times that not only is wine acidic (you folks knew that) but it soon becomes alcoholic and is only really threatened by wild yeasts and vinegar-producing bacteria. The have a mildly sanitizing foot bath before and after stepping in to a half ton of grapes. (Our supplier, Musto Wine Grape Co. of Hartford, CT is always generous.) I'm a big fan of the technique. After a few hours, the grapes a smashed to a thick wet mass and yet the stems and seeds aren't damaged and can be removed without adding their tannin. Next year, we'll add a band and there is talk of closing the street.
  6. But aren't you supposed to add the Fermaid at a 1/3 brix drop? You shouldn't even need a chart for that. For the end of fermentation, we use a specific hydrometer (https://morewinemaking.com/products/hydrometer-brix-5.html), so that it's as precise as we're going to get it. We always have some oddity with non-fermentable sugars, which are probably just part of growing grapes here, but the more precise hydrometer helps.
  7. Mine finally gave up the ghost. A company makes them now, sold under AimTab Reducing Substance Tablets. Of course they cost 2 to 4 times what i could get 100 Clinitest for but the reality is i rarely got through a whole bottle before they went bad so it is what it is. Maybe they are doing me a favor selling only 36 tab bottles. I think they do foil packs too.
  8. Alas, Bayer Clinitest is no longer available. I purchased a stash of 200 tablets a few years ago that I continue to rely upon (On occasion, they show up on eBay at a premium price). As far as I know, an alternative for home winemakers is the Accuvin Residual Sugar Test....but I have no experience with that product. I would be interested in hearing about other alternatives that don't require a spectrophotometer or reagents with very limited shelf life.
  9. Where can you find clinitest? I thought Bayer quit making them again
  10. The main advantage to using the refractometer and the tables are to tell when you need to add your Fermaid. If you have a lot of fermenters going then the refractometer would be a lot quicker.
  11. It is not as accurate as hydrometry as mentioned above....but "good enough" to follow the progress of a fermentation. I have prepared a document describing the process and procedure: See http://www.moundtop.com/fermentation/RBRIX-ATC-Fermentation-Tables.pdf The refractometer approach's biggest problem is that it cannot be used to reliably to indicate dryness (end of fermentation). However, even a hydrometer comes up short here. As an amateur winemaker I rely upon Clinitest tablets to estimate the residual sugar level indicative of dryness. As always, there are many ways to skin this cat.
  12. You need the pre-ferment refractometer readings. Then, you can use some estimations/calculations down to the end. Not as accurate as a hydrometer, IMO but many people use it.
  13. Hi Phil, To my understanding, after fermentation has begun, you cannot really get an accurate reading on the refractometer and that the hydrometer is much more accurate. It has something to do with the actual fermentation process. That's what I was told, so I use the refractometer up until crush, then I switch over. Always possible that what I've been told is wrong, but just passing along what I've heard. Kathy
  14. Joel

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  15. I am long time member who seldom posts. I have a small hobby vineyard in Berks Co PA.  Spotted Lanternfly showed first time last year. Wondering, since you recently got commercial applicators license, if you could comment on control methods.  Not much useful information available on line or at county ag agents.

    1. wxtrendsguy


      A blow torch or machine gun works well but not very good for your fruit. haha

      Here is a link to the newest info avail  extension.psu.edu/updated-insecticide-recommendations-for-spotted-lanternfly-on-tree-fruit  ...that being said my goal this year is to begin to build a IPM program that incorporates controlling SLF with my other insect issues.

      So my plan is to scout the vineyard this spring while pruning and look for egg masses.  Then use something that is effective for Leaf Hoppers, the first wave of Japanese Beetles, Grape Berry Moth and SLF nymphs in late June/early July.  The trick here is to get everyone to show up at the same time so I can get em all at once.  Most likely use Belay.  About 2.5 weeks later will do an application of Sevin to control SLF GBM, and JB.  In later July will probably spray Sevin again to take out JB and any SLF who wander in.  By early August or once I see enough adults around  I will do a spray of Brigade.  Then go to Actara around Sept 1 or sooner if I see the adults getting out of control. Then its Dinotefuron switched with Mustang Maxx until harvest.  On the early harvest grapes like Pinot and Chardonnay once harvest is complete I will come along and spray Brigade which should cover us till frost.  Later harvest grapes like Cab and Merlot will spray a dose of Actara to get me to killing frost...

      Good luck we are not planting anything further until the damage from this pest can be determined...its pretty bad though from what we can see.  


    2. shredmtb


      Thanks so much for reply. I did use Sevin last year, did some scraping, but it all seems to be hit or miss. Likewise am not replacing dead vines until I see how it goes this year.  I really enjoy reading your posts on winepress, and I copied/adapted your spray schedule a couple of years ago.  Hope to visit your winery sometime this year. Thanks

    3. wxtrendsguy


      Well hope to see you I am here most weekends except this one.

  16. Introduction to Home Winemaking WinePress.US DVD - Nearly 2 hours long

    Topics Include: 

    • General Introduction
    • Winemaking Basics
    • Winemaking Kits
    • Fruit Wines
    • Racking
    • Wine from Grapes
    • Crushing and Destemming
    • Fermenting
    • Pressing
    • Filtering
    • Bottling
    • Corking
    • Labeling
    • And of course, a few "Outtakes" 


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