White Wine Making 2006-2008


whitewinelargeWhite Wine Making - Over a few Years - We made more wine this season that we usually do....

Our winemaking depends on how big our crop was and what we have left.

The above picture shows about 5 gallons of St. Pepin, 10 gallons of Seyval Blanc and about 10+ gallons of Cayuga. About a week later we made another 10 gallons of Niagara.

All of the grapes were pressed soon after harvest, the specific gravity was checked and the wine was sweetened with honey to ferment out to 10 to 11% alcohol. Cambden tablets (sulphite), about 1-2 per gallon, were crushed and added to the juice.

A yeast starter was prepared with a gallon of fresh juice, boiled (to kill any wild yeasts), cooled and a package of Cotes de Blanc yeast added. This started fermenting real soon and the day after pressing and sulphiting the juice it was added in roughly equal amounts to all of the 5 gallon carboys.

In a few weeks the fermentation will be finished and the containers will be combined and topped up to remove and air spaces on top which will cause oxidation and vinegar.

In about 3-4 months we will rack the wine, sweeten it slightly, and more sulphite and some potassium sorbate to retard fermentation.

3-4 months later, if it is still stable and not started to ferment again we will probably bottle it.

January 2007

White Winemaking - The story continues!

Last fall we crushed and press several batches of white wine - Seyval, Cayuga, Niagara & St. Pepin. We recently moved them from our barn (to keep them from freezing) to our basement where we bottle honey and make candles.

We were surprised when after a few days they all started fermenting again. I had thought that all the fermentations were complete because they were very clear and stable, but the warmer temperatures of our basement caused a little more activity.

My intention is to sweeten them and add sulphite and potassium sorbate - but I will have to wait a bit.

This is probably very good, as I do not want them to start fermenting again after bottling.

March - April 2007

White Winemaking - The story continues!

What does my Weight Watchers Mug and Niagara have in common.

mug Last January I wrote that I moved all of this white wine to my worktable in our honey/candle workroom. At this time we were supposed to rack, sweeten and bottle the wine.

As things typically go around our place, this has not been done yet.

However we have been doing lots of wine sampling.

In the process of racking the wine last fall, we consolidated the carboys somewhat so that they would be full and air not get in and cause oxidation. In the process we end up with a few 1 gallon carboys. These have been great for tasting and winter consumption.

Pat & I would decide that some Niagara (or lately Cayuga) would taste quit nice. I go downstairs with my trusty 32 oz mug and siphon off a quart of wine. Adding about a 1/4 cup of sugar to the mug and mixing it in and its ready to go.

The bad part of doing this is it lets air into the carboys. When we have done this before sometimes the wine starts to oxidize before we get around to racking it and it becomes spoiled.

I guess the moral of this story is that winemaking can be very flexible and fun and all we want to do is make a delightful and interesting beverage - Home Winemaking is not for the Elite or Pompous.

By the way - 1 glass of white wine is 3 points on the Weight Watchers Program.

Feb - March 2008

White Winemaking - The story continues!

More white winemaking notes - We just finished bottling the rest of our niagara. We gave a lot of it to our neighbor for plowing snow when our tractor had some problems.

The St. Peppin has been sweetened and is now ready to bottle, it is very nice. Now all we have left of our 2006 vintage is the Seyval and Cayuga.

April - 2008

White Winemaking - The story still continues - (it should end soon)!

More white winemaking notes - The St. Peppin has been bottled and partially consumed as we write this. When nice and cold it reminds us of a Piesporter German style wine.

I sweetened the 6.5 gallons of Cayuga with 4lbs of sugar and added some potassium sorbate and cambden tablets. The specific gravity was about 1.022 which was just a little sweeter than I liked. (The niagara was sweetened to 1.010)

We did a little taste testing by mixing part of the very sweet cayuga with part of the dry seyval blanc. The result was very nice.

We decided to rack the 6.5 gal of cayuga into a 5 gallon carboy with the remaining going into another 5 gal carboy. Then we will add some unsweetened seyval to it to fill up the second one (also adjusting sorbate & sulfur). Then the remaining carboy of seyval (we started with 10 gal) will also be sweetened slightly.

So we will end up with:

  • 6.5 gallons of sweet cayuga
  • 5 gallons of a cayuga/seyval blend
  • 5 gallons of slightly sweetened seyval

This is what makes winemaking REALLY FUN!


For further information view our downloadable "Winemaking Booklet".
This is a booklet that we hand out at our farm to help winemakers get started.