2017 Bottling

It was finally time to bottle the 2017 wines/.  This was the first year that I made a smaller amount of wine, so instead of almost 200 bottles, I only had 100 to do.  First thing was to make sure everything was sanitized. The night before I sanitize all of the bottles and put them on the bottle tree to dry overnight. On the day of the actual bottling, I use One-Step since it is a no rinse sanitizer and I can make a one gallon batch and use that for the entire process.  I sanitized an extra carboy for blending and then ran it through all of the tubing and the Enolmatic with a couple of bottles.  Once this was done, I blended using the new carboy by filling it halfway with Cabernet Franc and half-way with Merlot.  Then, the fun of the Enolmatic begins.  I just had to tweak it a bit to get the right fill level in the bottles, but once that was done, I was off to the races.  While the next bottle is filling, I use my Italian floor corker to put the cork in (I use Grade 3 corks from morewinemaking.com.  It is not a difficult process, and it only takes 1 hour for the 90 bottles I was doing.  Then, the fun part comes, cleaning.  All of the carboys have to be scrubbed and rinsed and then sanitized.  I had 5 carboys to do, so it wasn't too bad.  I then rinsed out the Enolmatic overflow and sanitized it the same way I did in the beginning, by running a few bottles of sanitizer through it.

After a couple of days of sitting upright, I put the labels on and placed them on their side.  I wish that I could put them in the wine racks, but they are already full!

2017 First Racking

Racking picture

             A month after the pressing and first addition of K meta, I did my first racking and testing for SO2 on the 2017 Cabernet Franc and Merlot. I try to minimize any air intake (no splash racking or anything) during the racking and always take the free SO2 measurement after the racking. This year I made half as much wine as before, so it was definitely a quicker process.
            The first step was to determine what new containers to use. I always try to come close to preserving as much wine as possible, while leaving out as much of the sediment as I can. I started off with 11 gallons of Cabernet Franc and 9 gallons of Merlot. This gave the opportunity to move to 2 5 gallon carboys for the Cabernet Franc and a 5 gallon and 3 gallon for the Merlot. I tend to lose about 1 gallon in the initial racking since I do not do any racking off the gross lees. My press gives very few gross lees.  After a careful racking, all the new carboys were filled.
              I then tested the free SO2 using the Vinmetrica SO2 analyzer. The first carboy of Merlot came out at 20 ppm and the second at 16 ppm. Since I started with 35 ppm a month ago, this is consistent with me seeing a drop to these numbers over the course of the first month. The Cabernet Franc came in with the same numbers, so I again boosted those up to 35 ppm free SO2. The next racking will be in 2 months, as I find that after the first racking, the SO2 does not drop that much.
             Of course, the worst part about racking is the cleanup. The weather wasn’t too warm, so I had to use water from indoors, rinse it out and dump it outside. This just takes a long time. I then rinse with more water and sanitize with One Step and drain the carboys. Luckily, there wasn’t anything I had to scrub, just a few blasts of warm water and everything was clean.

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