Over the last weekend, I attended the "Grapefest" 2012 up at Bob's (the excellent bloke who runs Wines at home and organises Grapefest at his house).
The actual grapes were organised by Brian, one of the members (another Top Bloke, to whom I'm equally greatful).
So the grapes..... I got 5 boxes of Merlot and 5 boxes of Tempranillo grapes. We were hoping for some Shiraz/Syrah grapes, but they'd already been snapped up. Not to worry. I know bog all about fermenting with fresh grape anyway so this is a first for me.
Once we'd finished the crushing/de-stemming on Saturday morning (there's some pic's on the post for last years grapefest, of how that works out, so I didn't bother taking any more of those) I, unlike most of the others, didn't pile in straight away with the yeast. I just worked out where the levels of the pulp had reached up the buckets and then added pectolase accordingly, along with the appropriate amount of crushed campden tablets, which should (hopefully) have prevented any start of fermentation by any wild yeast that were on the grape skins.
Finally, by just allowing 500 grammes of honey per box, it'll raise the starting gravity, but not enough to cause the yeast any issues with "osmotic shock" and stop the ferment from starting.
Now, as I wanted to get my finger out and commence the ferments, I've just added the yeast (Lalvin K1-V1116) dry and stirred it in.
The above pic is after the K1-V1116 was sprinkled on top, while below is the "after" shot, once it's been stirred in.
This has happened to all 4 of my buckets of crushed grapes. I don't mind if there's a bit of lag, caused by the dry pitching of the yeast, but it means it's under way, so I can start with the pushing down of the cap once it starts to form.
I'm aiming to make a high alcohol, fruity, relatively tannic batch. I'm intending to keep pushing down the cap, but leaving the batch to ferment out, leaving the skins etc in there until it sinks. Some people feel that is too long, but I want maximum extraction of colour, flavour, etc.
Of course, I suspect I might have to step feed the ferments a bit, but that will depend very much, on how the ferment progresses. If I get round to it, I'll measure some of the honey mixed into some water, so I have an idea of how much I will have raised the gravity, and also make an attempt to measure the gravity of the fermenting musts - just so I've got a "ball park" idea of the actual starting gravity I don't particularly want to have it finish too sweet, in fact, it'd be better for me to have it ferment dry, then back sweeten it to my desired level ready for the other processes.
Obviously, once the ferments are complete, I'll have to rack off the skins/pips etc, but I'll worry about that when the time comes........
I don't know if anyone will actually read this apart from me, but a mega thanks is due to Bob for allowing us idiots to destroy (not literally) his kitchen and conservatory (2 nights drinking debris can make quite a mess). Brian for actually getting the grapes, Pete for his brilliant talk on "Making (faking) Port" and David for his "Making beer the easy/quick way". Not forgetting all other attendee's for any idea's, guidance and/or info about making stuff with "real" grapes.
A special "dig" to Mr Sharp, who carried out the impromptu raffle of the wine kit supplied by Karl. That'll teach you to give me the number one raffle ticket won't it :-D I haven't decided whether it'll become a pyment, a "fake" port or just make it up "as is".
As ever, the "Ruchee" curry on Friday night was briliant, despite me being 9 parts pissed and then trying to decypher a menu, even when I was wearing my "readers"...... A smashing bit of trough provided on Saturday, by both Bob and Karls wife, Anne-Marie (sorry if I've spelled it wrongly).