I truly wish this title referred to my Fermtech wine thief, but alas I truly did have a thief burgle our home. Someone valued my attempts at wine making, as we came home to find a ransacked house and 6 bottles of the 21 that were produced from the kit stolen(as seen by the empty rack above). I was happy to see our few very pricey selections in the wine fridge left untouched. Sadly, they made off with much bigger loot in the form of laptops (including mine with all of my notes and pictures), cameras (one had the pictures of my efforts and all the bottles) and other valuables. This has been a bit of a set back with the blog, many apologies for the lapse but time was needed to get things sorted, shore up the house, and replace equipment. When last I wrote, I was battling fruit flies and still a couple made their way into the airlock on the second day. In the meantime, much has been going on with the grape growing side of things too. Going back in time now, I will touch on the highlights of my wine making as I recall (my notes are with my burgled 6 bottles). In future posts, I will detail the new vines which have already sprouted; the white clover taking hold as my living mulch; and, on the dark side, troubling signs with two of my three Zinfandel vines.
After waiting the 7 days for primary fermentation to complete, as the kit instructed, and checking specific gravity (1.006), secondary fermentation was next. My name for this phase was the “horse latitudes”. It was a still and seemingly a wasteland of inactivity from start to finish. This was my first racking and using theAll In One Wine Pump I mentioned in a previous post. I was very focused on avoiding the two biggest threats, oxidation and contamination. Racking with the pump was incredibly easy and clean, but again I have no frame of reference to compare as I have not used any other method. I had two issues, both due likely due to my lack of experience.
The first, was deciding whether to let the racking cane rest on the bottom, assuming the tip would raise the suction point high enough to leave the lees undisturbed, or to hold the racking cane just above the lees but risk a slip. It seemed that the lees were a bit higher than the top of the tip so I opted to position the tip just above the lees. I had to press the tip against the side so I knew where it was, using a flashlight to help see the top of the lees. I was able to transfer everything over quickly and cleanly but left a good inch or so at the bottom sadly. The dilemma here was there was now more air in the top of the carboy, posing a greater oxidation risk but the kit stated not to top off so I didn’t attempt to remedy the situaiton.
The second issue encountered was a result of wanting to get as much as I could transferred so when the level reached the racking cane tip, just like sucking that last bit of shake, the pump began to slurp air. No worries, the All In One has a release, I pushed it, the slurping stopped, I turned off the pump and let go of the release….a blast of bubbles violently burst into the secondary. My error, as I lacked the knowledge and skill to balance that last bit to prevent the blast of air. Did I just introduce one of the two arch enemies of the winemaker… Oxidation?
Post whoopee cushion impression; everything went disturbingly quiet for secondary, which concerned me with so much space at the top of the carboy. A little visible activity would have indicated a seal against oxidation at least.
To clean I simply used the All In One pump to transfer a gallon of PBW solution through the tubing into the primary carboy, let it sit stoppered for a bit, then swished it around. That was it, the tubing and carboy were clean.