Harvest 2019 is finished!
Next available FedEx Ship date on Tuesday, December 3rd. Orders needs to be in by 8AM on Monday, December 2nd. All of the 2019 harvest is now shipping!
Harvest 2019 is finished!
Next available FedEx Ship date on Tuesday, December 3rd. Orders needs to be in by 8AM on Monday, December 2nd. All of the 2019 harvest is now shipping!
Next Shipping day is Tuesday September, 17th Place your Order by 8 am PST Monday, September 16th.
Red pails contain 5 gallons of must
Each pail of frozen wine grapes or juice shipped via Fedex comes with a free ingredient kit! Based on our lab’s numbers, we include enough tartaric to balance the pH of your wine, yeast, yeast nutrients (Go-Ferm and Fermaid K, oak cubes, tannin (FT Rouge), Opti-Red, and enzymes (enzymes only included if requested).
Don’t know what grape must looks like or how to use it? Take a look at grape must in this video. Grape must consists of the skins, seeds, and juice of grapes once crushed and destemmed.
The article below was written by Daniel Pambianchi who is the author of the best selling book, Techniques in Home Winemaking. He also created and moderates the largest (and best) Home Winemaking Group on Facebook. You can hear him speak live this summer at one of his seminars on Consistently Making Flawless Wines.
By Daniel Pambianchi – April 28th, 2019
So I’m on a quest to make, not great, but superb wines from top-notch fruit (i.e., grapes). And therein lies my challenge . . . every year – sourcing top-notch fruit, juice or must (juice with grape skins).
I live in Montreal (Quebec, Canada) where purveyors of fruit and juice for winemaking cater predominantly to the older generation of cost-conscious winemakers and to those wanting to make tiny batches of good, early drinking wine (inexpensively too). I have resorted to driving hours and hours or paying premium dollars to get juice or frozen must that I can turn into superlative wines, wines with a bang of a wow factor. It hasn’t been easy, but wholesalers and distributors are catching up and now sourcing grapes from not only California’s Central Valley, but also from Oregon and Washington in northwestern US, as well as the Southern Hemisphere from Chile and Argentina and as far as South Africa to satisfy the needs of discriminating amateur winemakers.
WineGrapesDirect, operated by partners Andrew and Mikey Crews, is one such purveyor of high-quality juice and must from grapes sourced from premium vineyards in California, Oregon, and Washington. Crushed must (reds) and pressed juice (whites) are flash-frozen and then shipped by courier anywhere throughout the continental US and Canada.
I have become partial to frozen must because the freezing process ruptures grape cell walls and release more anthocyanins (color pigment molecules) and increase color extraction. It had always been a challenge extracting color in the okay grapes from the Central Valley I was able to source locally.
So I decided I would try three 5-gallon (20-liter) pails of WineGrapesDirect’s best of the best for evaluation purposes, and since I live a short one-hour drive from the US border and there is no duty or taxes on (unfermented) frozen must, I had the pails shipped to a pick-up location just across our friendly border.
I chose the following varieties, one white and two reds, from the 2018 harvest (prices are in US$ for 5-gal pails unless stated otherwise):
Since these are tiny batches for evaluation purposes, the wines will not be aged in oak barrels, but they will be given the full and maximum-extraction treatment to turn these into very full-bodied, dry wines with long aging potential. By “dry,” I mean to have less than 2 g/L of residual sugar (RS) in the finished wines, and so, acidity cannot be too high so as not to throw off balance. And in lieu of barrel aging, I will use WineStix, an oak-barrel alternative with which I have had excellent success in the past.
Once the pails thawed and were in working temperature range, around 10°C (50°F), I analyzed juice samples thoroughly in my lab to assess, for example, acidity, pH, nitrogen levels, and color to determine what adjustments, if any, would be required before initiating alcoholic fermentation (AF).
Before presenting the analysis, some parameters are worth explaining.
PA, or Potential alcohol, expressed in % alcohol by volume, is calculated from Brix readings according to the following equation:
There are many variations of calculations for this conversion, but over the years, I have found that this calculation is closest to the actual amount of alcohol measured in the wine after alcoholic fermentation (AF) is done.
Since high-pH grapes, juice or musts have been a perennial problem in my winemaking, I now regularly measure the amount of potassium ions (K+), the most significant factor influencing pH and tartrate stability. High pH also reduces color and color stability in reds due to a shift of anthocyanins to the non-colored forms. It’s very hard to deal with high K+ in juice in home winemaking, but the measurement will provide some clues as to the extent of any potential issues.
FSO2 and TSO2 are a measure of free and total sulfur dioxide (SO2), respectively. These will be more important during post-fermentation processing; I measured these parameters in the juice/musts to see if any sulfite was added to the juice and to determine how much, if any, I would have to add to keep indigenous yeast and chemical oxidation in check while ensuring not to add too much, which could otherwise inhibit bacteria for the malolactic fermentation (MLF). All three wines will undergo MLF, and I am planning to inoculate for MLF soon after the start of the AF.
YAN, or Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen, is a measure of the amount of nitrogen that yeast cells can assimilate and use for their metabolic functions during AF. A short or even an over-supply of nitrogen can cause fermentation problems and possibly lead to flaws or faults, the dreaded, stinky, rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) being the most common. The amount of YAN yeast needs depends on Brix; typically, at 21, 23, and 25 Brix, yeast needs 200, 250, and 300 mg YAN/L, respectively.
Turbidity, measured in Nephelometric Turbidity Units, is measured in white juice to identify potential fermentation problems, such as the production of volatile sulfur compounds (H2S is one such substance). The maintenance of a sufficiently high level of turbidity is essential for white wine production, with solid particles acting as a source of lipids for yeast growth under anaerobiosis (absence of air). The recommended range is 100–250 NTU though some research indicates that levels as low as 50 NTU are sufficient.
DO, or Dissolved Oxygen, is a measure of the amount of oxygen already present in juice. DO is normally tracked post-fermentation in wine to monitor any potential oxidation issues. I measured it here, in conjunction with A420, to assess the state of the juice/musts and to identify any potential storage issues of the frozen juice/musts. A420 is a measurement of the absorbance measured at a wavelength of 420 nm; it gives an indication of the amount of yellow color in white juice and it if is turning to a brown color.
In reds, A420 is also used to assess the extent of chemical oxidation and if color is taking on orangey or brownish hues. A similar measurement is made at 520 nm for A520 to determine the amount of red color and to calculate Color Intensity, or IC. Full-bodied reds, the style I am aiming for, have IC values in the range 8–12. Another similar measurement is made at 620 nm for A620 to determine the amount of blue color (a characteristic in young wines) and to calculate a modified IC. Since the red-color aspect is not obvious from these parameters, another parameter, brilliance of red, is calculated from the absorbance readings, and the higher the percentage, the greater the brilliance.
Hue is the ratio of absorbance measurements at 420 nm and 520 nm, i.e., the amount of yellow color to red color, and gives an indication of aging and possibly premature oxidation. Young reds, before there is any oxidation, should have a hue of less than 0.8, i.e., the yellow component should never dominate.
Missing from this analysis is the polyphenol status in reds; total phenols (TP) is measured post-fermentation as tannins are first extracted from grape skins and, to some extent, seeds, during fermentation. TP along with A280 measurements will provide useful data on full-bodiedness, astringency, bitterness, and aging potential.
Following are the numbers I measured for the three lots, and my maceration–fermentation strategies.
The numbers look pretty good, though some attention is required, particularly that I intend to put this wine through MLF.
Total Acidity (TA) will increase as succinic acid is produced during the AF, although the low tartaric acid component of TA indicates that there is likely high malic acid, which will be converted into lactic acid during MLF and decrease the overall TA to possibly a very low level. (I am not yet equipped to measure reliably the amount of malic acid in juice or wine.) I’m also not expecting much change in TA during cold stabilization due to the low tartaric and K+ contents. So I won’t make any acidity adjustments at this stage; I will re-evaluate post AF/MLF and make any necessary adjustments.
Given that DO is close to saturation (about 8 mg/L at 20°C/68°F and 1 atm) and that there is less than 7 mg/L of free SO2 from the 40 mg/L added at the freezing stage, I want to avoid any possible premature oxidation and bump that up a little to keep the oxygen in check, and so I added 25 mg/L of SO2. The color was a light golden; I measured A420 here so that I have a reference point to identify any potential oxidation problems later on. I also added some OptiMUM White, which contains GSH, or glutathione, a strong antioxidant. GSH is naturally occurring in grapes but I suspect that it may have been entirely consumed in the juice here during processing and storage.
YAN is a bit high but still very good for this Brix level, so there are no nutritional issues to worry about here.
The relatively low NTU just means that the juice cleared itself quite a bit during processing and storage. I’m not really concerned at this point having worked with low NTU juices many times previously.
My choice of yeast for this wine is Lalvin Bourgoblanc CY3079, which is recommended specifically for rich, full-bodied Chardonnay and sur-lie aging. I’ll use some yeast rehydration nutrients (Go-Ferm) and additional nutrients (Fermaid K) at one-third Brix depletion for a smooth fermentation. To monitor fermentation progress, I will use a Plaato, a new Wi-Fi-enabled airlock that measures SG and sugar conversion by counting the number of carbon dioxide (CO2) bubbles produced per minute based on the juice volume and Specific Gravity (SG) entered at the start of the batch.
For the MLF, I have chosen Lactoenos B7 (LF16) Direct inoculum; I have had great success with this bacterium. I will inoculate shortly after the AF has started to get the MLF to complete at the same time as the AF or shortly thereafter.
Looking at these numbers, the first thing that jumps out is the high pH; this is largely due in part to the high K+ content (compare these numbers to those for the Pinot Noir below). The most important issue needing attention is protecting the must and resulting wine against microbial spoilage (microbes thrive at higher pH) and premature chemical oxidation. Here I added the equivalent of approximately 50 mg/L of SO2. Frequent punchdowns during maceration and fermentation should be sufficient to keep things in check for now, but higher doses of sulfite will be required post-AF/MLF to protect the wine during aging. As I’m expecting TA to increase during the AF, the pH will drop, but that will be offset by an increase in pH if I decide to cold stabilize the wine and drop the K+ level. I’ll re-evaluate this post-AF/MLF.
YAN should be around the 250 mg/L for this Brix level, so I will make up the difference by adding a diammonium phosphate (DAP) formulation (Thiazote PH).
Let’s take a look at SO2 numbers now along with DO and color parameters to understand the status of the must and what happened during its storage.
No sulfite was added to the must prior to flash freezing. DO is very, very low (40 µg/L), and that’s good if we compare this to the DO of 7.50 mg/L for the Chardonnay. What happened here in the Cab is that polyphenols went to work and did their job in protecting against chemical oxidation in the absence of SO2. There are no visible signs of oxidation by inspecting the color; however, a spectrophotometric analysis reveals a slightly high yellow component relative to the red component with the hue calculated to be 1.21 – this should be less than 0.8 at this stage. The approximately 50 mg/L of SO2 added should “remove” some of that yellow color and restore the red color and increase it brilliance, which is low (14.7%) at this stage. I also need to keep in mind that the high pH reduces color and color stability. This means that I will need to focus on extracting as much color as possible during maceration via appropriate and timely additions of color-extracting enzymes (HE Grand Cru) and fermentation tannins (Tanin VR Supra). I will also be adding some inactivated yeast derivative nutrients (Opti-Red) to help this process and then stabilize color when it reaches its peak by adding another dose of Tanin VR Supra. All this with frequent punchdowns should get the IC in the desired 8–12 range and red brilliance well above 60%.
My choice of yeast for this wine is Uvaferm BDX, which is recommended for rich, full-bodied red varietals and specifically for Bordeaux varietals, along with the same yeast rehydration and nutrient protocols as for the Chardonnay. For the MLF, here too I will use Lactoenos B7 (LF16) Direct inoculum, and also inoculate shortly after the AF has started to get the MLF to complete at the same time as the AF or shortly thereafter.
The numbers for this Pinot look very, very good. May this be the greatest Pinot that this Pinot lover ever dreamed about? The pH is in the perfect range with a low K+ level. TA too is perfect, which will increase during the AF while the impact from the MLF will be relatively small given that the TA is predominantly tartaric acid.
YAN should be around the 250 mg/L here too for this Brix level, so I will make up the difference by adding some DAP (Thiazote PH).
The same analysis as for the Cab for SO2, DO, IC, hue and brilliance of red apply here. IC is quite a bit lower, but that is expected for a Pinot, which always requires extra focus and effort on color extraction and stabilization due to low anthocyanin content in grape skins. Note, however, that the brilliance of red (28.6%) is higher than for the Cab, so that’s good because it means that the yellow component is lower. I’m expecting to still get a fairly deep, rich red color by implementing the same enzymatic, color and tannin addition protocols as for the Cab.
My choice of yeast for this wine is Lalvin RC-212, which is recommended for rich, full-bodied Pinot Noir, along with the same yeast rehydration and nutrient protocols as for the Chardonnay.
For the MLF, here too I will use Lactoenos B7 (LF16) Direct inoculum, and also inoculate shortly after the AF has started to get the MLF to complete at the same time as the AF or shortly thereafter.
Ready to Making Some Serious Wines
I’m excited. Things look good, so it’s time to inoculate and start fermentation.
I will report back at the conclusion of the AF and MLF and pressing (reds) to see how things progressed along with a similar analysis of the same parameters as above. I will also start monitoring Total Phenols (TP) to gauge polyphenol content and what it all means.
So stay tuned, we’ve got some great wines in the making!
Next FedEx Ship Date Tuesday April 30th – Place your order by Sunday.
The tradition of brewing with grapes is thousands of years old but surging back into popularity. Brewing great beers requires great ingredients. Extracts and purées are cheap and easy but that’s also how they taste. Your customers deserve real beer. At Wine Grapes Direct we pride ourselves on sourcing and providing 100% real fruit. No BS, no purées, no extracts, no concentrates, no flavorings. Real fruit for real beer.
No, you can’t legally label your Pinot as “Biodynamic”. The word Biodynamic is owned by the non-profit group Demeter-USA and use of the word Biodynamic on wine labels requires that both the farmer (vineyard) and producer (winery) are certified biodynamic by Demeter.
They say beer was invented and wine was discovered. The first evidence of brewing dates back to 7000 BC China, where residues from a jar indicate a fermented beverage that contained rice, honey, and fruit (likely grapes). So some of the first beers brewed were probably made with grapes.
The first evidence of deliberate winemaking comes from Georgia (not the state) in 6000 BC. Those early winemakers chose to use grapes because grapes offer the rare combination of being both high in sugar and high in acid which creates a more potent and more durable beverage. Modern winemakers have learned to use to grape skin contact during fermentation to extract desired colors and tannins.
The same qualities that make grapes the perfect fruit for making wine with also make grapes the perfect fruit for brewing beer with. The high sugar content increases your brew’s potential ABV. The high acidity increases freshness and sourness. And fermenting on grape skins offers more color and intensity of mouthfeel.
But in the 1500’s the Bavarians passed the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Act) and fruit beers have not been very popular ever since. Luckily that’s all changing and brewers are venturing away from the traditional barley, water, and hops recipe. In fact, “Sour Beer” and “Other Beer” were the two fastest growing categories of beer sales from July 2017 to July 2018 according to Nielsen data.
Sour Beer sales grew over 40% in that period and have ample room for growth. Other Beer sales grew 11%. Fruit beers fit neatly into
both those categories and are poised for even more growth in 2019. The third fastest category of growth in the beer market was in IPA, which has seen tremendous growth over the past decade. Wine grapes also happen to complement IPA’s perfectly as the bitterness imparted by the hops is balanced out by the sour and sweet and nature of wine grapes.
** It is expressly prohibited to use the “Olivet Lane Vineyard” name for commercial purposes without permission from the Pelligrini Family.
The historic Olivet Lane Vineyard was planted by the Pelligrini Family (3rd generation Sonoma grape growers) in 1975 and is one of the oldest existing plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley. The vineyard is situated north of the Petaluma gap which allows cooling fog to settle in almost daily during the growing season. This fog, coupled with the chilly Russian River Valley nights, creates a truly cool climate and lengthy ripening.
Wines from this vineyard produce some of the highest rated and most sought after vineyard designate Chardonnays in the country. Check out what’s available from Merry Edwards, Williams Selyem, and Gary Farrell.
Acreage: 60 total acres of Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
Exposure: Various undulating plain
Soil type: Gravelly, clay loam
Positioning: North to South
Topopgraphy: Rolling Benchland
Elevation: 150 feet
Year planted: 1975Rootstock: AxR1
Scion wood clone: Martini / Wente
Vine spacing: 8 x 12 feet; vertical trellis
Trellising: Cane pruned VSP (vertical shoot positioning)
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Cover crop: Rotating
The Calistoga AVA is known for having the highest concentration of volcanic soils and the biggest diurnal shift in the Napa Valley. Some of the most famous Cabernets in California are grown here, including Chateau Montelena , which is located just up the river from the site of our fruit. The vineyard’s proximity to the river results in a combination of volcanic and alluvial granitic soils, which are well draining and highly infertile, the ideal soil type for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.
We’re offering our first rosé. These Grenache grapes were meticulously farmed on the valley floor of Washington State’s Columbia Valley. We’re sending the grapes straight from the crusher into the press to produce a salmon colored juice ideally suited for making dry rosés in the style of Southern France.
Do You love Right Bank Bordeaux? Do you love Red mountain? We’ve got you covered with Merlot and Cabernet Franc coming from Washington’s most esteemed AVA.
“The Red Mountain AVA is located on a southwest-facing slope in south central Washington, a three and one-half hour drive from Seattle. At 4040 acres (1,635 hectares), this is the smallest, warmest wine-grape growing region in Washington. It has a unique combination of diverse geology, gentle south slope, consistent winds and notable heat profile. A complex mixture of the most rare and highly valued soil types in Washington was created by wind-blown silt and sand over glacial outflow. ” – Red Mountain Alliance
What is that orange stuff all the hipsters are drinking? Meet orange wine, the darling of millennials. But don’t be afraid, orange wine is just white wine that had longer than usual skin contact time prior to pressing, giving the wine an orangish-brown color and increased tannin and phenolics. Winemakers have been doing this a long time.
We’re in San Diego sponsoring our 6th Winemaker Magazine Conference and awards dinner. Its the largest gathering of home winemakers and the biggest amateur winemaking competition in the world. We brought 5 gallons of biodynamic Pinot Gris juice and 30 bottles of finished wine. You should be here.