Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Backflipping into winter...

I managed to get some pruning done on the Chez Ray vines. You can see this one performing a backflip into winter...

The other vines are waiting patiently, ready to shiver through the cold months.


  1. Any tips for a newbe home wine maker? My father and fiancee got me a wine making kit and ingrediants for my birthday today and I am making an attempt at Riesling. Eventualy I would like to get to the point where I can get graps from willing growers and crush them myself or get stuff shipped to me that I can blend and such.

    Any advide would be welcome!!


  2. David,

    Thanks for your note. Happy birthday! For white wines, your kit will be quite similar an experience to working with grapes. (The primary difference with red wines is that for reds you would be fermenting grape must, including skins.)

    If you have an inclination to higher-end juices at higher costs, check out my posts about Brehm frozen grapes by searching "brehm" on my blog.

    I have mostly fermented red grape must from Brehm, but had wonderful experiences with their botyrised (sweet) white juice.

    Otherwise, if you have a local homebrew shop, they should be able to secure white grapes or white grape juices for you at harvest time.

    For an excellent set of introductory materials about winemaking itself, check out:
    and click on their "More Manuals!" link.

    Meanwhile, if you want some illustrations and tips about certain aspects of the process, you can try searching for terms in my blog; for instance, "yeast", or "malolactic", or "oak" for instance.

    I hope this is helpful.

  3. This is the second year I have been making wine, although the first for white. I luckily live in San Francisco, so Napa etc. are rather close. The reason for my post/question is that my white wine appears to have lost a lot of it's bouquet. I ran into some hydrogen sulfide problems, but took care of them in the proper way; yet, my wine still has no yummy yeasty flavors like it once did. Any tips for bringing that nose out again, or could it be that my wine is A in shock or B gone...

  4. Hi, Justin,

    Your location near Napa gives me geographical envy, being a home winemaker tucked in New England.

    I'm not an expert on these things, and a lot will depend on your particulars of grape and process, but I have seen that most manipulations (for H2S of otherwise) can strip the wine a bit. But I have usually seen those yummy yeast aromas of primary fermentation disappear by the time of pressing (for red grapes) or by secondary fermentation (for whites). I'd love to hold those fixed forever too, but have not figured out how.

    If the wine is still relatively young (ie, just a few months), don't give up on it. I've found bouquet and flavor to be at a low ebb right after fermentation and for a few months. If you've knocked out the offensive H2S, you may still have a perfectly good wine on your hands. Patience...

    If after the wait, you've nothing but alcohol and acids left, you can always trying adding some sugar and potassium sorbate to fix the sweetness, and end up with what is likely to be a crowd-pleasing - if not distinctive - smooth, sweet white dessert wine.


  5. Ray,
    Thanks for the help and good luck with your adventures in wine making! As they say, Patience is a Virtue.
    Hope you have a happy New Year.