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Might be the one

2016 October 23
by Zac Brown

Going to look at this next weekend . Might be the one , beautiful location , well known local brand , good wine . I’ve had a look at the financials the agent sent me . No red flags .

The Tale of Two Yeasts

2016 October 16


I am a lover of careful observation of fermentation kinetics.   Over many years I have learned and recorded my observations and used that experience to become a better winemaker.   Every year can be different.   Some factors which makes that so include Brix Level, Yeast Selection, Ambient Temperature, and Berry Size.

I have experienced ultra fast hot ferments and cold ones as well.  I am a fan of getting at least to mid to upper 80s.  With one half ton batches or greater obtaining that level of heat is not usually a problem.  However as all Winemakers will tell you, “Shit Happens”.    Sometimes, usually earlier in the season when Winery Temps are in the Mid 70s to low 80s ferments can get too hot.  And what is too hot?  Well if you read the manufacturer’s yeast charts anything over 88 is dangerous.  In actuality getting to the mid 90s is standard practice with some winemakers and many yeasts have no trouble in that temperature range.  Yet is seems when ambient temps drop to the 60s the risk of getting over 90 is pretty slim.

This year my goal was to go 14 days between Crush and Press.  Truthfully this was not some artisanal decision.  All I really want to accomplish is having the Team skip a weekend between the Crush and Press.   In order to accomplish this I asked Frank Musto of the Musto Wine Grape Company to deliver the grapes to me as cold as possible.  In the past I have asked Frank to leave my grapes out of the Cooler the day before so I could get a jump start and not have to wait for the temps to rise for the yeast to get busy.  This was when I wanted to finish in 7 days.

So the grapes arrived and after crushing they were 48 degrees.  Assuming you can get your grapes delivered at 48 degrees you can forget about all you read about using Dry Ice and Ice Bombs.   If you insulate your vats you can expect to be at 63 degrees and no higher in 3 probably 4 days.  So if you interest is in Cold Soaking that should be enough time without using other cooling methods.

Then there is the story about Nutrients.   The latest craze it seems, who started it I have no idea, not to use Fermaid K.  Why?   It contains DAP.   Me? So What?  I have written about DAP fear before but even then Fermaid K was ok.   It is as if DAP is considered the worst thing in the world a winemaker can use.   Never mind Trucks deliver thousands of pounds of the stuff to California Wineries every year.   It has it place and Winemakers need all kinds of tools in their tool chests.  One use is getting some Must temps up another getting rid of stinkies.

So back to the story of these two yeasts.  Can you believe the Yeast Charts when they say a yeast has moderate fermentation speed?  I don’t think so. In fact I think the following will be quite illuminating.

We start with a cooler winery in this case in the 60s.   Again the grapes arrive on Day 1 at 48

Degrees.  The Vats are wrapped with insulation.   The vats consist of 2  ½ ton Cab Sav (28 boxes each)  1200 Pounds of Petite Verdot, and 648 Pounds of Barbera.  All vats recorded 27 Brix.  Initial PH for the Cab was 3.58, and 3.71 for the PV.  The Barbera was 3.3. All vats were watered back to 25.5 Brix.  The tartaric was added, at the rate of 6 grams per litre to make up for the water addition to the Cab and PV. No acid was added with the water addition for the Barbera   The yeast for the Barbera is BM 4×4  all the others get BDX.   With the vats now unwrapped on day 3 the temps of all the vats are 63 degrees.  The yeast cultures are pitched.  On day 4 we are at 22 on the Cab and PV at 74 degrees and  18 on the Barbera.

As for the Nutrient Story all vats received Fermaid O as the Cap was forming,  Fermaid K when the Cap was established , another dose of Fermaid K at 18 Brix and a dose of Fermaid O at 12 Brix.  Now it starts to get interesting.  On Day 6 the Barbera is at 10, while the Cab and PV are at 18.  Yet the temps are 73.  Where is the heat?  I wrap the vats again to keep the heat in hoping it will rise.  It is cool in the winery.  On day 8 the Cab is at 10 and we reach 80 degrees but the Barbera is now at 1 at 77 degrees.   So much for Moderate Speed for BM 4×4.  On day 10 we reach 4 with the Cab and PV while maintaining 80 on the vats.  The Barbera is now minus ½ and on day 11 it goes to minus ¾ where it remains until pressing.  The Cab and PV continues to divide by half each day and gets to minus ½ on day 14.   Mission accomplished.

What conclusions can you draw?  For me I think with Temp the same, Brix the same to call both yeasts moderate is wrong.  Not getting higher than 80 even while the Brix dropped super quickly in the Barbera is a bit odd.  What would I do different.  Not much except with a cool winery and wanting to reach 85 degrees I think a small dose of DAP at 18 brix would have helped me get there.  Let the DAP Trolls panic.

More reading for DAP Trolls  here ….goes back to 2010 but still worth a read or a laugh…


Making Wine the 2016 Report

2016 September 7
by Gene Fiorot

It is time to begin the discussion.   Grapes are arriving soon..

As of 9/8/2016

Cool Nights and Days in the low 80s and high 70s in Suisun are creating the opportunity for long hang times allowing the grapes to get their last rise in brix very controlled and slow.   Grapes are beautiful this year and it is going to be a perfect year.   In Lodi  as well, the temps are swinging from day to night and during the day are in the 80s.   Again grapes are dark and ripe.   Even Fresno is experiencing temperature swings and temps only in the high 80s.    So this could be the vintage year to remember.   Why am I thinking Cab?




Ceja Pinot Noir and Ceja Merlot We made it.

2016 June 8
by Gene Fiorot

So nice to see this pod cast about Amelia Ceja and her family.   We have been very lucky to have made wine from their fruit.

Buon Vino Super Jet Filter I hate seeing Amateur Winemakers getting ripped off

2016 June 5

It may not seem like a big deal but replacing the check valve in my Buon Vino Super Jet Plate Filter Pump brought to light what I believe is price gouging by Winemaker Suppliers catering to Amateur Winemakers.  I do not know if this carries over to every item sold by individual suppliers    but in this case and among others a simple plastic check valve seems to be focal point to screw people.

If you own a Buon Vino Superjet Plate Filter you should know after a few years or even earlier if you leave K meta in the pump when cleaning the check valve will go bad.  You know this because the pump starts off intermittently not self priming to not priming at all.  Then you need to replace the check valve.  It is a good idea to have a few handy instead of having to order one in a hurry and not have the time to shop the item.   And boy oh boy you need to shop the item.

Well mine failed and for those who know me,  I take my own advice and had a replacement on hand.  Then I started to look to buy a few spares.  This led me to a google search for shopping. wants 59.99 , the wonderful people at want 49.00 a real bargain, wants 45.89  ( .89 ? ) , wants 34.95 but it is the old design valve, of course you can go to and buy a new complete filter for 529.99!

I am not sure how I remembered or what caused me to land on the website.   A long time ago Zac Brown recommended them as a good supplier.  I think it was the time I was looking for a semi-automatic corker.  Yes they carry Buon Vino Super Jet parts.  The valve is listed for 36.00.  Keep in mind that is Canadian Dollars.  That translates to $27.00 us.   Also if you need pads they cost less than a than a dollar a piece.

Also while I was goggling my ass off over this I found that Buon Vino markets a 6 plate Super Jet Model.   Same pump just 3 additional plates to allow for more filtering without having to change pads midstream.   Bosa carries the plates for $36.00 CA  ( $27.83 us)   Needless to say I purchased 3 plates.  Amazingly suppliers must think we are stupid.   Bosa carries the 3 plate version for $270.00 us.   and  add three plates and that makes it about $353.00 for the 6 plate  filter compared to at $599.00  of course if you really want to get screwed you can always go to to and pay 650.00

Anyway I ordered from Bosa  2 checkvalves, 48 pads , and 3 plates. and paid 25 dollars shipping to Florida. Using my credit card adjusted the exchange rate automatically.  They couldn’t be nicer people to deal with and they shipped very quickly.  Hats off to them.  As for the rest of them I hope they have google alerts when someone quotes their web address.  Then they can read this too.

Do you ever want to look in your barrel?

2016 May 16
by Gene Fiorot

Up to now looking in a barrel has been a difficult issue to accomplish or an expensive solution you may have not considered.  But fear not your prayers have been answered.   You too can afford the latest barrel inspection techniques in your winery.   Two versions of this now very affordable method.  One uses any computer the other an android phone.  Order one today and join the 21st century.

Computer Version

Android version



A Visit to the Winery on Kimball An Unexpected Pleasure

2016 May 5

Yes it is true.  I was graced by the Giants.   The Giants came for a visit to the  Winery on Kimball with one mission in mind.  To taste the wines. Yes and boy oh boy did we have wines for the Giants to taste.  About 60 percent of them Lanza / Musto Vineyards fruit.   So we tasted and tasted and augmented that tasting with some cold Italian Antipasti.  The Giants first started with  some recently barreled 2015 wine.

Then we moved on to barreled wine taken out and put into tanks ready for bottling.  By that time the Giants had destroyed the Antipasti it was a good time to leave the Winery and arrive at the Ristorante.

Of course I brought a selection older wines bottled as far back as 2011.  They ate like Animale.  These Giants really can eat.  Holy Cow.  I keep wondering why I eat half of what they eat and I am the fat fuck.   Ok I know y0u are dying to know. So the accolades from the Giants about my wine was amazing.  While some may think the Giants would say anything on a full belly, what counts for me as an honest critique.  And while the Giants can say what they want, it is really my questioning them as they drink where I flush out where it is at.  Yeah I have an ego but I am my worst critic too.   So no smoke is going to fool this old bastard and I know the flaws minor as I may think.

The results?   I could go on with all the positive comments and all the super compliments. And believe me there were.  However only comment  sticks in my mind by Ron Lanza when he said this,   “I have tasted all your wines.  Are wines are wonderful.  What is more important is you have put it on the grower of grapes who made your wine.  Me? I reply.  In other words Gene it is up to me as a grower to make your wines better.  It is you who have made wines from to fruit we provided as good as wine they can be.    Can anybody want for a better accolade than that ?     While me thinks that Phoney Corrados wouldn’t know a good wine from a Piasan they need to give  a handjob to.  If you read this be sure of one thing.  If you want the best grapes to make your wine you better go the M&M in Hartford CT and see Frank Musto. Let the rest go to Corrados and buy crap.   Thanks Giants for the visit.

A new winemaker but at Giant of a Person Carmine

A new winemaker but at Giant of a Person Carmine

Frank Musto, Ron Lanza , Todd Lanza and Carmine Serrantino.

The Giants

The Giants

What is going on at

2016 April 2
by Gene Fiorot


Bottling & barrel filling

2016 March 21
by Zac Brown

So A Guy Makes some Brehm Must

2016 March 5
by Gene Fiorot

On a guy reports he is making some Brehm Cab Sav.    He asks for advice because he thinks he has a problem.  Personally I don’t think he does other than to say he needs a few lessons in Nutrient Protocol and Yeast Starter Cultures.   You can read it here :

However what interested me was this response….

“I’ll make a few comments as I have significant experience with this frozen fruit.

I prefer pitching the starter at 55F to reduce the impact of the wild yeast and microbes that propagate quickly during the thawing of the must, this is especially important when not using sulfite in the must. By the time the must is at 66F, unless the starter is large, it will have a difficult time becoming the dominant strain.

The brix and TA values provided are only an average and individual pails will vary, I have seen reported values of 24 and measured values at 26 brix.

The must nutrient level was very low as indicated 60ppm YAN, I calculated the required nutrient addition for the two pails combined at 16 grams of Superfood and 20 grams of DAP; based on your description of no off odors, you did well.

My preference is to kill off the malolactic bacteria with sulfite a few days after the chromatogram shows complete and butter is not excessive. Allowing the wine to remain at 70F with a heat belt well past the end of malolactic without sulfite, can cause a little volatile acidity as the bacteria consume citric acid and then any residual sugar that is present. As long as the VA threshold isn’t crossed, it’s not entirely a bad thing, it just requires more time for those things to combine harmoniously with the wine.

All that being said, my guess is that you’re tasting a combination of natural acidity, tannin, co2, and volatile acidity, which have an additive effect on each other. Those grapes are mountain fruit from 1700′ elevation, high in tannin with a high capacity for oxygen; time with oak exposure should smooth things out.”

Now I find some things wrong with this and like detectives I think it would be fun for you to read it and comment about what flaws you find in the advice given.     Have at it.   You never know a WinemakingCrap Member could be reading here.  LOL  Wanna Bet?


Cold Stabilization Do you know the formula?

2016 February 17
by Gene Fiorot

Well there never is a moment where doesn’t seem to provide a topic which brings out the best and most qualified information and advice for home winemakers.    Let me say forget whatever you knew about Cold Stabilization.  If you don’t know the formula you don’t know squat.

Yes it seems that informed winemakers who are successful at performing Cold Stabilization use this formula.  As it turns out in over 25 years of winemaking I have never performed a successful Cold Stabilization.  Who knew?

Cold Stabilization Temp (C) = -(%Alcohol -1)/2

Here is the thread a poster provided this web blog with this information.  Here is the Thread on

And here is the link to the Web Blog

Here is an example using the formula if you don’t want to do the math….”For example, if you have a wine at 15% alcohol by volume your ideal cold stabilization temperature would be -6.5 degrees (C) or 20.3 degrees (F).”

I have no idea who runs that blog but I would love to know who created that formula.    LOL!


The Utter Stupidity of Moderator JohnT

2016 January 11
by Gene Fiorot

Good Lord!  Does this wanker JohnT have to add his stupidity to most treads on an already compromised forum.

A simple question was posed.

“Fast fermentation left my fall batch with poor color. I want a deep purple. What additives are available to add color? If you have experience with them, any technique is appreciated.”

The solution was given by the only decent Winemaker on the site.

“Grape skin extract.

Correct Dan!  That product also known as Mega Purple has no tannin and really does not add any taste to speak of due to the incredibly small amount needed to color correct most light wines.  However the Moron JohnT has no idea but rest assured that does not stop him from adding his sage advice”

“...Additives like tannins and grape skin extract will change the flavor of the wine.”

Pay attention Mister  Moderator before you make a comment on a product you obviously have no knowledge of or most assuredly never used. Just Shut up for a change. never disappoints.   LOL

Brachetto Frizzante Are you up for a challenge?

2015 December 31
by Gene Fiorot

A friend had an interesting wine tasting party.   She is a Certified Wine Specialist  (CWS) and a Certified Spirits Specialist (CSS) and teaches a course for those interested in obtaining the Wine Certificate.  She decided to have a party for her students.   The theme was “The Weirdest Wines you’ve never heard of”

And there were some weird ones I can attest to that.   One however caught my attention and the attention of Miss Virginia.    The Sangue di Giuda dell’Oltrepo Pavese, Lombardy, Italy, $20 (Sweet)”  A wonderful light red Mezzo Frizzante sweet wine with low ABV.  Refreshing, sweet yet acidic enough to keep the mouthfeel clean and bright.  And really not too much gas at all.

Curious about this wine I went to a local wine shop and inquired about the wine and was told they did not have that label but they had two other  Brachettos.   Brachetto?  Did you ever have a Brachetto? I didn’t before going to the party.   This is not a rare grape in Italy from Piedmonte. And it is grown in California in a small amount.    I purchased the two bottles they had and so far have had one.  It had a screw top.  The other a  Banfri Wine with a champagne wired cork.  I assume not all Brachetto’s have the same frizzante.

While it was not the same wine served at the party this Cornicelli by Quintessential Importers was exactly the same.  I was surprised at the ABV.  It was 4.5%  So you can drink this like soda pop if you like flat soda pop.

I like a challenge.  Each year I try to make a wine in a small amount just for the experience and the fun of it.   I would not mind trying making this wine.  Except there are a few obstacles.  The first is getting the fruit.   As for that issue I have sent Christina Musto and Frank Musto a request for them to investigate locating it and I did provide 2 vineyards that grow it in California.

The other obstacles I am not sure I have a solution for.   While I don’t know the starting brix of these grapes with a 4.5 percent ABV how do you get mezzo frizzante in the bottle and still keep the sugar.  That is the challenge.   Is the fermentation stopped to keep the sugar and then carbonated?  Or is this done by a natural process? Or is the frizzante a result of MLF?


Homogenizing Oak Barrels

2015 December 31
by Gaetano

Has anyone read the article in Decembers issue of Wine Business Monthly about Homogenizing Oak Barrels?
This is a real interesting article, apparently “Several cooperages have introduced barrels that they claim will stabilize the oak factor—itself, a crucial component in premium wines. They are guaranteeing the homogeneity of the tannins and even the chemical components in the barrel from one vintage to the next”.
Vicard Generation 7 (Gen7) appears to be the one that stands out among the rest “Unlike traditional barrels, where oak staves are assembled without regard for tannin potential or consistency, the Gen 7 is designed to produce the same tannin profile (TP) from year to year. “It gives you a wine style you can rely on,” said Christy Thomas, Napa-based business development manager for Vicard Generation 7. “It’s a new approach to oak. We have a fast and reliable methodology to measure ellagitannin content in the untoasted oak, and combined with our computer-driven toasting system, we can reproduce a truly homogeneous barrel that will remain identical in each new shipment from year to year.” Each stave is scanned for its ellagitannin content using near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), a scanning technique using the electro-magnetic spectrum, which gives non-destructive measurements quickly and accurately. The staves are then sorted into three categories according to their tannin concentration, and barrels are then coopered based on these tannin levels.”
With the help of a $3.5 million computer-monitored system, they can guarantee that even the toast level is identical, According to Thomas, direct fire-toasting by the cooper is inconsistent due to human error and ambient fluctuations, this is just another aspect of homogenizing oak barrels.
I’m sure that the price per barrel would be a bit pricey for most home wine makers, but the possibility of being able to replicate a great vintage is very appealing.
The article is several pages long but very interesting, I’m interested in hearing what everyone’s thoughts are.
Follow the link to read it: Click Here


Merry Christmas!

2015 December 24
by Gaetano

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!