Written by Stan Gower
Thursday, 31 December 2009 09:12
Adding Yeast Nutrient...Racking...Oak...Fining
This guide is written with the beginning, SMALL SCALE,
HOME wine maker in mind and is an illustrated, master
document tying together the wine making process
described by other EDWG “summary” articles. You will
notice some text coloured as follows,
red wine making
process; This is a link to another document. You can
either read on, or click to be taken to another document
for a more complete explanation of the concept or
Wine Making is a process beginning in the vineyard. This
guide starts you off at the point where you pick the
grapes and takes you through the individual steps to
finally get your precious wine into its bottle.
The Guide presents low cost, sometimes home built
equipment so that the beginner can get started with a
relatively small financial commitment to expensive
It's true that wine making is a combination of practice,
art and science. One selects the material based on its
perceived qualities, then tweaks it based on measurement
and taste. All the while you make sure that, through
good practice and knowledge, only friendly microbes and
yeasts visit your wine. You may give the process gentle
pushes and nudges to protect it from microbes, enhance
characters that are already present. You take particular
care to make sure that the finished product will last
for a reasonable time in the bottle until its finally
consumed by you and your impressed family and guests.
There are some important differences between making
white wines. Red wines are fermented with the skins
and pulp. The whole lot is then pressed after the
fermentation is complete or near complete. White wines
on the other hand are normally fermented as a clear
juice. That is, the grapes are first crushed, pressed
with the resulting juice clarified lightly before
fermentation is commenced. The Guide will point out
other specific differences.
You may find it useful to refer to the diagrams
red wine making process and the
wine making process.
PICKING the grapes (is a fun way to start making your
The Eltham Winemakers' Guild has a web site set up (EDWG
Winemaking Fruit Sources) early in each year for
vineyards to post grape availability to Guild members,
including type of grape; expected ready date; and price
per kilogram, either picked or pick your own. The buying
is then arranged directly between the wine maker and the
Bulk grapes can also be bought at markets, but for a
beginner it can be difficult to assess the grape
freshness and quality, as these grapes often come down
by truck from Northern Victoria; may have been sitting
in the vineyard in boxes and on a truck for 5 or 6 days
before they get to market. They are generally cheaper
than grapes directly from the vineyard.
Good wine begins with good grapes, so if you are not
careful you simply will not be able to make good wine no
matter how careful you are in actually making the wine.
You will maximise your possibilities of making good wine
if you buy good grapes from a reputable grower. Such
growers will advise you on the fruit's ripeness in
terms of its sugar (Brix) and acid content (pH).
As a guide, red grapes such as Shiraz and Cabernet
Sauvignon should be between 24 to 26 Brix with a pH
between 3.4 to 3.7
White grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
should be between 18 to 23 Brix with a pH between 3.0 to
pictured...PICKING CHARDONNAY GRAPES
...RESTING OVER LUNCH
Some of the issues when selecting healthy grapes when
picking are: dried out grapes; severely bird pecked
grapes; Botrytis mould or rot, see picture below; grapes
that are past their prime, being picked too late after
CRUSHING THE GRAPES
In early peasant wine-making, the grapes were crushed by
stamping on them in a vat, after, hopefully washing your
Modern machine crushers combine crushing AND de-stemming
the grapes, all in one process.
For the small wine maker, to buy a crusher de-stemmer
would not be very cost economical.
They can be hired,
but the time to book it when needed, when other people
need it as well, to hook up a trailer and drive to
collect it; use it within the time booked; clean it, and
return it all takes a lot of time.
For quantities of grapes of 300kgs to 400kgs, or more
depending on your energy, a hand operated mechanical
crusher is less expensive, ($450 new, to $150 second
hand if you can find one is a practical and convenient
alternative. See photo below
One way to mount and operate the crusher is to
sterilize two wheelie bins about the same height. One
bin, as in the photo, sits on one bin to collect the
crushed grapes and juice. To allow getting the crush out
of the bin, it is easy to slide the crusher out of the
way onto the other bin standing alongside.
It's essential that the crush be sulphated.
Summary article on
Also see the Summary article on
SAFETY. Use a block of wood to push grapes between
crusher rollers. Some manual crushers have a "wavy" bar
that rotates in the grape bin to help the bunches fall
through the crushing rollers. The crusher pictured does
not have that, so the bunches of grapes need to be
pushed in with a piece of wood, to prevent risking
crushing the fingers.
NOTICE the small amount of PMS per 10 kgs of grapes
A GENERAL RULE. Never add an extra quantity of a
chemical just because there seems to be a need for it,
because, once added, you can't take it out again if you
have made a mistake. Only add after you are sure that
the additional amount is correct, and needed.
Pectic enzyme, when making WHITE WINE only.
at rate of 10 mgs per 100 litres of juice
= 50 mgs per 1000 Kgs grapes ( 30 - 50 mls / ton.)
= 10 drops (from eye dropper) of enzyme to 10 kgs of
= 1 drop (from eye dropper per 1 kgs grapes.
1 drop from an eye dropper per 1 kg of grapes
= 10 drops for the 10kg hopper of this crusher.
The crushed grapes need to have the grapes and juice
removed from the stems, and the stems discarded.
Getting crushed grapes to de-stemmer tray
As mentioned above, a crusher de-stemmer
does all this as the grapes are crushed
Vigorously stroking fingers back and forward through
grapes releases grapes and the stems "float" to the top
NOTE RE: BIG CONTAINERS. Council wheelie bins are safe
for crushing grapes into and for fermenting wine in up
to the pressing stage, PROVIDED they are thoroughly
cleaned and THEN sterilized
For WHITE wine, the grapes are pressed immediately after
crushing and de-stemming
For RED wine, pressing is not done until after yeast
fermentation is completed. If
“fermentation”is progressing at this time, that’s OK
because it will continue on after pressing
Some are made
of Stainless steel
Right....Pouring de stemmed
Grape Juice into the home
made basket Press.
A lever off veranda post provides pressure
juice from the crushed grapes
Processed 116 kgs of grapes on yielding about 49 litres
A fairly poor yield. Unfermented white grapes
seemed to be harder to press than fermented red grapes.
Collecting the juice from press tray.
This is what's left from 180 kgs of grapes.
Adding yeast to the grape juice....^
EDWG Summary on Yeast Fermentation.
Only use fresh yeast bought from a reputable supplier.
If acid is to be added to adjust pH, leave that addition
until the fermentation is well started in the juice
containers. This is usually well noticeable by listening
close to the container to hear the small bubbles
“crackling.” If the yeast is hard to start, have the
checked because this can sometimes inhibit the yeast
start up. See the EDWG Summary article on
PREPARATION of Yeast in small plastic containers with
100ml of water at 38'C
Sprinkle 4.5 g of yeast in each one ...
Stand containers in water at 38'C for 25 minutes
Digital thermometer. Water in tray @ 40'C to keep water
and yeast and sugar in small containers @ between 35'C
- Put a pinch or two of sugar in with the yeast and
water at 35-40 degrees.
- Now the rest is patience. After 20 minutes or so by
time it should be foamy, leave the jar on your bench at
room temp or less and let it cool.
- Gradually add a few mls of the grape juice (called
must) every few minutes to hurry the temp drop, adding
only with the foam remaining strong (wait otherwise). As
the activity increases (helped by the small doses of
must) you can add larger amounts of must.
- Bring the temperature of yeast suspension to the same
temperature as the must.
- When using open top must containers, this can be done
by floating yeast containers in the must until the
temperature of the yeast suspension is the same as the
temperature of the must. If the must containers do not
have a large enough neck to float the must containers,
then float the yeast containers in hot or cold water
until their temperature is the same as the must.
- When yeast foam is more than 50% of the total volume,
and its temperature is the same as the main juice, then
pour yeast solution into the juice and stir in.
Ready to go into the must.
- While fermenting, bring temperature down to about 16'C
This is important for flavour and nose of wine.
ADD YEAST NUTRIENT...^
EDWG Summary on Yeast Fermentation.
CHECK FOR Hydrogen Sulphide. (Rotten egg gas!!) smell
while fermentation is in process, it is necessary to.
This must be treated early, otherwise it can become a
very serious fault that is almost impossible to fix.
RED wine, Press after yeast fermentation is
completed, and enough colour has been extracted from the
skins. Also, see the EDWG Summary article on
See the EDWG Summary article on Racking
Racking is simply syphoning the wine from one contained
to another clean and sterilized container.
AFTER yeast fermentation is completed, the wine needs to
be racked, three times, about a month apart.
When the top container is nearly empty there will be
some sludge of grape pulp and other residues at the
These are not syphoned off, but washed out with clean
water, and then that container is used to receive the
next container of racked wine.
The wine is kept in containers with
locks filled with water to allow CO2 gas to
escape, but stop air getting back into the
Right...HOME MADE lifting frame, (then slide small table
underneath) to help with both racking and bottling.
See the EDWG Summary article on Oak.
Fining and Stabilisation
For white wine, consider adding Bentonite. See the
Summary article on Fining and Stabilisation.
Bottle Sterilisation, and filling....^
See the EDWG Summary article on Cleaning and sanitation
Bottle tree is to drain the sterilised
The diaphragm regulator on the Right is for filling
bottles. It cuts off the flow of finished wine when the
bottle is full.
2-Pump on the center squirts PMS, (Potassium metabisulphite)
solution is pumped into the inside of the bottle to
sterilise it, (after it is cleaned by washing with
bottle wash if it needs it).
Corking machine ...The following EDWG summary articles describe the basics
airlocks and bungs; and
quantities, units and are also highy recommended.
Reaping your reward
This is what
all the work
Stan Gower enjoying his own wine.
The original drafts of this wine making guide were
prepared by Stan Gower. He has been assisted over a
number of years by Spencer Field,
George Wright, Neil Johannesen and
Ken King, and in particular over recent
years by Karen Coulston, who is a Life Member of the
Guild, professional winemaker, and provides a laboratory
testing service for wine makers.
Wine making is an art as much as a science, and there
are many different views on must topics. Also, different
factors interact to complicate what is right or wrong.
This guide has been prepared by the Eltham and District
Wine Makers Guild primarily to help new wine makers get
started, and the Guild and its members cannot accept any
responsibility for any errors in this guide or
misinterpretations by users. The ultimate teacher of
wine making is experience, and that included making your
own mistakes, and perhaps spoiling a batch of wine
beyond fixing. That’s all in the game!!
The EDWG Winemaking Guide was commenced by Stan Gower
and is intended to be continuously improved by the
contributions of its members and advisors.
0.1....1-Sep-2009......Stan Gower....First draft and photos
1.0 ...2-Jan-2010 ....Gary Campanella
Editing first draft, addition of Appendices A and B
(White and Red wine making at a glance diagrams)
Editing for web publication
26-Jan-2010...Gary Campanella....Additions to Section 2 (Picking the Grapes)
1.2 15-Mar-2010 Gary Campanella Added link to Fining and
Last Updated on Monday, 15 March 2010 11:31
Tuesday, 17 November 2009 11:35
I’ve come to regard anything that Bryce Rankin writes
about winemaking is accurate, informative and practical.
He is accessible to the interested amateur and this book
is no exception. It is a text for makers of sparkling
wines and those who have a general interest. It is a
manual describing the production, from grapes to
packaging. It is intended that a winemaker who has never
made a bottle of sparkling could follow the process.
In broad summary, once you have a base wine you put it
into a bottle and inject with a sugar solution and start
a secondary fermentation followed by crown-sealing the
bottle. The conversion of sugar into alcohol and carbon
dioxide results in a fizzy wine, made cloudy by dead
yeast cells. You encourage the deposits to collect under
the crown seal, and discharge the plug of sediment wine
to waste. The resultant wine is then sugared to taste,
sulphured to stop further fermentation and sealed once
again. I guess it can get a bit more complicated than
that, so read the book.
I made my first sparkling wine armed with just this set
of knowledge and it tasted OK, so don’t get put off by
the complexities that the professionals must master.
I will ignore most of the process and concentrate on the
important information I was lacking when I made my first
attempts: the liqueur and liqueuring. Two types of
Liqueur are required: the one before secondary
fermentation to produce CO2 in the bottle, and the
liqueur to sweeten the final product after disgorgement.
The first addition can create problems. If too much
sugar is added, resulting in a pressure in the bottle
that is too high (danger of explosion by popping the
crown seal or at disgorgement) or the opposite (not
enough fizz). This book gives clear instructions about
The fermentation liqueur (tirage liqueur) is made from
cane sugar dissolved in wine a week or so prior to
pouring into the bottle, giving time for the sucrose to
invert (change to a sugar that yeasts can use as a food
source). It should not ferment in storage because the
sugar levels are too high. To make 1L of fermentation
liqueur, add 0.5 kg cane sugar into 0.69L of wine base.
Add some citric acid to assist in sugar inversion and
adjust the pH to that of the base wine. For smaller
volumes, change the proportions.
The amount of liqueur you add depends on the pressure
you want in the bottle. A graph is given in the text
outlining the CO2 (g/L) and pressures (kPa) for various
temperatures (from –5C to 25C). You select the pressure
you want for a given temperature and insert the required
number of grams of sugar per litre of wine. For example,
for a final pressure of 400kPa (4 atmospheres) at 20C
then 7.25 g/L of carbon dioxide are required. You may
decide to seek a pressure of 500-600kPa in recognition
that some will be lost when you disgorge the sediment.
For the moment I’ll stick with 400kPa.
1 g of sugar produces 0.49g of CO2. Therefore, for 7.25g
of CO2 you need 7.25/0.49 = 14.8g of sugar per litre of
wine. Because 1L of liqueur contains 500g of sugar (see
above), the volume of liqueur required is 14.8/0.5 =
29.6ml of liqueur per litre of wine. ...
[That’s all theory. If I added the amount of sugar they
do in commercial wineries I think I would blow up my
house. After some experimenting now add eleven grams of
sugar to each bottle and squirt in some re-hydrated
yeast solution with a hypodermic syringe (with the
needle removed). Then I crown seal the bottle. This
seems to generate enough bubbles for an acceptable
sparkle but not run the risk of explosions. I have found
it useful to use a receptacle that holds exactly 11 g as
a measure which I dip into the bag of sugar and then I
don’t have to worry about scales at this messy time. I
use granular sugar and toss it in using a funnel. I
suppose it would be better to use a sugar solution, but
I find the sugar dissolves pretty quickly anyway.] .....
If you want to be more precise, the addition of the
29.6mL per 1L of wine will increase the volume of the
blend and this can be allowed for. The formula for this
is as follows:
V (wine) x V (liqueur) = Volume of liqueur
V(wine) – V (liqueur)
e.g. : 1,000/(1,000 – 29.6) = 30.5 litres of liqueur
required where V (wine ) is the volume of wine and V
(liqueur) is the calculated apparent volume.
When this is fermented to dryness the low pH and the
presence of carbonic acid makes the wine taste very dry
and further sugar is added to personal taste (from 2.5
to 80g/L). Less that 15g/l will still give a Brut
Dissolving at a rate of 6.26g in 6.12mL of wine normally
makes this final liqueur. However other additions are
also possible: For example to make 1L of liqueur, mix
together and stir till dissolved:
Matured Wine 570mL
Citric Acid 5g
To prevent microbial activity and oxidation in the
bottle of sparkling wine, add SO2 to the liqueur to
bring the level of SO2 in the final bottle of wine to
35mg/L. (You can work out the proportions required for
If you are still with me, the calculation of the final
liqueur addition is as follows: To liqueur a dry (brut)
wine to 1% sugar (or 10g/L) with a liqueur containing
625g/L of sucrose, the calculation is as follows. For a
750mL bottle of wine, the quantity of sucrose required =
10/1,000 x 750 = 7.5 gm/bottle.
If you are using liquor containing 625g/L sucrose, the
required volume of liqueur containing 7.5g sucrose is:
1,000/625 x 7.5 = 12mL of liqueur for each 750mL bottle.
Part 1 exposed the depths to which an amateur winemaker
must descend to achieve a clean bottle of sparkling
wine. Part 2 are my notes on the expert account outlined
in the Reference book.
The lees (dead yeast cells) that have accumulated in the
neck of the bottle of sparkling wine that has undergone
a secondary fermentation in the bottle needs to be
removed and this process is called disgorgement.
Disgorging is a skilful operation when carried out
manually. Commercially, the neck of the bottle is
usually snap-frozen and the ice plug is expelled, along
with the lees.
The book also describes a technique used when bottles
are at cellar temperature and no ice plug is used. When
cork-sealed bottles are disgorged, the bottle is held at
about 45 degrees below the horizontal with the gas
bubble held in the shoulder of the bottle. Then, using a
special pair of pliers, the clip is levered off the
cork, holding the cork with the index finger of the
other hand. The cork is then allowed to be slowly forced
out of the bottle until explosion when the bottle is
uprighted with a twisting motion to about 45 degrees
above the horizontal, to position the gas bubble between
the liquid in the bottle and the deposit. The deposit is
blown out of the bottle by the pressure and the bottle
is given a sharp tap with the plier that induces the
wine to foam slightly to wash any remaining deposit out
of the bottle.
So much for the theory and practice of experts! We now
come to the pornographic processes of the amateur. ..^
I use crown seals for the secondary ferment (and for the
final product – the cork and wire and metal dressing are
aesthetic, but the crown seal is inexpensive and does
the job). As described above, I tried the 45-degree tilt
and moved the bubble to the shoulder just as I released
the crown seal. And yes, I did manage to discharge the
sediment so I have managed to achieve the required
result, I suppose. But my mental image of the process
described in the book has never matched my reality.
I do not have the experience to remove the crown seal
with precision. Some flip off quickly, some slowly. The
danger is in a hesitation in the movement, and believe
me there is real reason for hesitation. Too quick a
release results in massive foaming and you lose half a
bottle of precious wine. Too slow and you waste the
energy of the fizz to remove the sediment. If there is
any hesitation in the movement while the cap comes off,
the pressure in the bottle is released while the cap is
only partially released. The plug of sediment and wine
is expunged in foam caused by the bubble in the bottle
and the pressure of CO2 in the wine; it hits the
partially released cap and sprays with considerable
force and magnitude back onto the disgorger and onto
everything behind him. His clothes are saturated and for
a considerable distance behind him, the surroundings are
doused in wine.
After many tries, I find the only practical way to
achieve disgorgement is to select a warm day in summer
and to take my bottles into the garden. I find an area
not too close to the house, but with a broad area of
garden behind me, not too close to the neighbors. I
strip to my underpants (I have a false sense of modesty)
and proceed to flip off the crown seals with the utmost
care and precision. I like to refer to these sessions as
disgorgement, rather than disgorging because it lends an
artistic flavour to an otherwise very ordinary
In every disgorgement I have carried out, I end up with
the garden covered in spray and myself in the shower
before I can approach the task of re-dressing myself and
topping up and re-sealing the bottles so that I can
achieve the necessary clarity of sparkling wine. The
neighbours have threatened to sell tickets for the
event. Such is my passion for homemade wine. There can
be no greater sacrifice. ...^
I now buy a small amount of dry ice in an Esky and
invert the bottles into it (for about 30 seconds).
That’s enough to freeze the wine in the neck of the
bottle. Then I flip off the crown seal and the plug of
ice (with sediment) shoots into the neighbour’s yard.
It’s less messy but you still need a shower at the end.
Wear safety glasses and keep the bottle facing away from
your face. If the plug gets stuck you can prod it with a
screwdriver to help it fly out but don’t point it
towards your face. The mobile plug of ice is dangerous.
It would be safer to work with the bottle behind a
Perspex screen but I haven’t used one.
Armstrong. D Rankine B and Linton G. 1994 Sparkling
Wines. The Technology of Their Production In Australia
Winetitles Adelaide ACC 291991 BRN 173284 NMIT Library:
Last Updated on Sunday, 03 January 2010 23:17 ...^