Winemaking at Home
October 2006

Here is a brief photo essay on my recent winemaking experience.  What fun!

Picking Merlot grapes at a local vineyard in Saratoga, CA.  Picked 100 pounds for the first batch.



Crushing the grapes to break the skins and remove most of the stems


Crushed up grapes in a 20 gallon tub.  First step is to add sulfite to kill bacteria and native yeast.  Let stand 24 hrs.


A day after the yeast is added the sugar in the grapes starts to ferment into alcohol and CO2, causing bubbles. 


After a week or so the grapes are pressed in this device, separating the juice from the skins.


This is the cake of skins and seeds remaining after the juice has been pressed out.  Looks tasty, no?


The juice, meanwhile,  goes into the "carboys" for secondary fermentation for a couple more weeks.  The fermentation traps in the corks let the CO2 escape from the bottles but prevent air from entering the jug and ruining the wine.  I ended up with about eight gallons of wine from the 100 pounds of grapes.  That's about 40 bottles worth.


On November 2, about two weeks after the beginning of this process, the wine was tested and transferred (racked) into a couple of three gallon jugs (carboys).  Here are a few photos.


The proud Papa.  You can see the sediment (lees) at the bottom of the big jug (carboy).  These are left behind as the wine is siphoned off into the two smaller carboys (at left with tin foil on the top).


A good friend of mine told me that anything you do with love will turn out well.  So ........


Nope...not shooting up.  Rather, I am doing a titration to determine the acid content of the wine.  I also measured malic acid level, residual sugar and free sulfite.  All looked OK except the malic acid, which was quite high.   Hmmmm.


Here's a look at the slimy sediment (lees) at the bottom of the large carboy after the wine was siphoned off.  It consists mostly of spent yeast and grape skin and seed particles.


When I went outside to rinse those nasty lees out of my six gallon carboy this is what I saw.  I took it as a good sign.


Stay tuned for updates and wine tasting party.