To filter or not to filter – that is the question. When I started out in winemaking, I tried to read everything I could find on my new hobby. In most all of what I read, the authors had concerns about filtration's use in clarifying the wine. They talked of concerns with stripping the wine's aroma, flavor, and color. In other words, they didn't recommend it. In a way, they alluded to its use only in large volume, quickly produced, low quality wines. With this information, I stayed away from filtration in my first couple of years in winemaking. I spent a ton of time and effort racking and utilizing fining agents to try to get my wines – whites especially – to clarify. In the end, they were clear; but never brilliant.
tersome additional research on-line and talking to winemaker at a local boutique winery who utilizes filtration in their white winemaking process, I decided to give it a try. I ended up purchasing a Buon Vino mini jet (pictured below). This filter is a plate and frame design that makes use of filter pads – with different pore size openings – to filter your wine. The description talks about it being perfect for kit wine makers whoare dealing with smaller six gallon batches. As a fresh grape winemaker, I deal with significantly larger annual batches than this. I, however, like to experiment with multiple styles of wines from these same grapes, so I end up with multiple five and six gallon batches. For this reason I ended up going with the mini jet versus the larger unit from Buon Vino – which was twice the price.
From my experience with the unit over the past number of years – it is a workhorse! I have found that the #2 – polishing filter pad is the go to size in filtering my white and rosé wines. The difference between a fully clarified wine and one that has been filtered through the polishing pads is truly dramatic. The wines are brilliant!
My process has developed over the years and now seems to be spot on for my winemaking. As you may recall from my past blogs, I treat all my wines with pecticenzyme right after the grapes are crushed. This is very important for the white and rosé wines, as it breaks down the proteins in the grapes that could lead to a hazy wine that filtration can not remove – at least not the filtration we can do at home. Once primary fermentation is complete, I rack the whites and rosés and place them on my deck for a number of weeks to cold stabilize. Assuming Mother Nature has helped out and provided me the temperatures I need to drop out the tartrates, as well as other suspended solids in the wines, I will end up with some very clear wines at the end of this stage. The tartrates that precipitate also provide for a very hard surface over whatever has fallen from the liquid column of wine. This is great in that when I bring these carboys back in, as long as I'm somewhat careful, there is little risk of re-suspending what has settled out....