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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!

Breaking down that Press What have you been missing all these years?

2015 December 22

Yes there are unbelievers out there and those who simply don’t know.   But whether you are using a basket press with a ratchet or a bladder press breaking down the cake and fluffing it up and reloading the press will give you additional yield.  What is even better is if you are using a ratchet press you don’t have to kill yourself with the ratchet.   Just press until the flow stops, break down, reload and press again.   As promised here is a video of a second pressing of approximately 800 pounds of grapes.  It was Merlot not the most generous type to yield to begin with.  Second pressing yields can be much more than the video when the varietal is Zinfandel or other larger berry grape.

IMPORTANT !   When watching turn up your volume FULL BLAST   MORE WINE WAITER PLEASE!!!!!!

Christmas Party 2015 Another Total Blowout!

2015 December 5
by Gene Fiorot

Thanks to all who attended the 2015 Christmas Party.  The house was packed not an extra seat available and the food was great along with all the great wine from all the winemakers.   We even were visited by a famous person!   Video to follow….

Is Accuvin Paying Attention?

2015 November 29


I have been a firm believer in the Malic Acid  Test Strips sold by Accuvin Inc.   Using them has been a pleasure and has made life a lot easier that doing multiple paper chromatography tests and waiting 24 hours for the results.  For the past 4 years I have, I will admit, relied on Accuvin and left the chromatography on the shelf.   Yes  you can call me a bit lazy.  I will plead guilty to that if you can credit me with doing side by side Accuvin Tests and Chromatography for a few years and saw the results were confirmed on both tests repeatedly.

Last year Al Battista tested his Pinot Noir with the test strips and had an expiration date of 2016.   The strips indicated the MLF was complete.  This summer with the wine in the barrel the MLF came back to life.   Al purchased a new set of strips and retested with both the old and new.   This time the new strips indicated the MLF was not complete.

Something is wrong with the strips.   Al called Accuvin but to date they are not responded to his call.   So there is a real question about their customer service.  But more so if this is a wide spread problem can any of us trust the Accuvin tests going forward?  If the strips cannot be trusted is there any reason to use them?

While it is a pain for winemakers to perform,  it seems to me we all will have to use chromatography to at least confirm the Accuvin Malic Acid Tests in the future.

I certainly hope Accuvin will respond to this issue with its own investigation. We wait for a response.


It is possible only on

2015 November 24

Yes it is possible to be a dumb shit, no nothing , bad advice giver, and total hoser and become a moderator on

Joining the ranks of the other asshole moderators is none other than JohnT    Now a moderator.   Congratulations to you JohnT.  Maybe you will read a few books and seek the advice of experts before you, as you usually do, spread horseshit to the unsuspecting winemaker who visits the leading Crap Forum for winemaking on the internet.

Just hoping not much confidence this will actually happen.

We are not alone

2015 November 22
by Zac Brown

This guy makes 2 tonnes in a 550 sq foot apartment .

Apartment Winemaking



The 2015 Wrap Up

2015 November 12
by Gene Fiorot

Well with all our wines quietly going through MLF I thought we should have a thread on our 2015 Season.   For us , as we have spoken about previously, the Brix levels of some of the varietals were off the charts.  This making us look more carefully at our protocols and procedures for next year when faced with high brix grapes.   Solving a rare TCA problem in wine from improper re-hydration of barrels was a challenge we faced and succeeded in correcting.   Other than my Sangiovese/Cab Sav blend not looking like MLF is working all seems good while we wait for the Gamay to start up again in the carboys and finish up the last of the sugar.   The iridescent color of the Lanza/Musto Barbera is different and really beautiful.

Each year I attempt a small batch of something or do something different.   This year the challenge is a really buttery Chardonnay.  I inoculated with VP31 with Acti ML but used no Opti malo.    I am hoping to detect the butter with my nose and then try to decided when to add the Lyso-Easy.  I really don’t know a better way to know when to stop the MLF to protect the Diacetyl.  I could use Accuvin Strips and shut it down before it is finished I guess.   And ideas on this will be appreciated.  If I have success I will use Oak Staves or Spirals in a VC Tank.   A Kendall Jackson style the goal.   The juice is Lanza’s

So what’s  your story…..


What do you know about TCA 2,4,6 Trichloroanisole and TBA, PCA, TeCA? Or Haloanisoles in General? Probably not much.

2015 November 10

Except for those who know TCA is that nasty musty smell of a bad cork spoiling a perfectly good bottle of wine.  If you are one of us, then you know how to calmly tell the Waiter or Sommelier the wine is “Corked”  The smell is unmistakable.  It smells like a musty basement.  For those who have a damp basement you probably are familiar with TCA.  Usually Cardboard Boxes have the smell and when you take the box out of the basement the smell of the basement follow right along.  It gets in everything.

Now not all people have the same sensory threshold for the odor.  Some have difficulty smelling it at all.  Me on the other hand I am like a Bloodhound when it comes to this. To give an example, I brought a bottle a fine cab sav I made to a dinner. I opened it and was so disappointed that it was “Corked” not horribly, yet only 2 out of the 7 people at the table could smell or taste it.  Believe me it was there.   I think my first experience tasting TCA or one of its relatives was as a young kid tasting the Basket Bottle Chianti at Holiday Dinners. Wow! That wine was loaded yet when an Uncle brought a Ruffino Bottle I liked it.  Which leads me now to the conclusion it was not a bad cork every time it was something else.  Possibly a bad barrel?  Weren’t the Italians using the same barrels then for 50 years?

Cork Manufactures have gone to great lengths to minimize TCA in their corks.  Chlorine baths were partially responsible. Just looking at the chemical name clearly shows a chlorine molecule. This could be a clue, but as this story unfolds somewhat of a Mystery develops.

At our last Winemakers Tasting Dinner about a month ago, the focus was on soon to be barreled or just bottled wines.  There were only 14 of us in attendance so it was a good opportunity to concentrate on tasting and offering impressions.  You can imagine when we have 50 people in attendance tasting becomes a chore and frankly at times I forget what the heck I am drinking.  In any case the wines were being tasted and as we got to the main course of the meal  two of our relatively new winemakers John and Phil shared their Cab Savs.  Each one a Lanza Varietal, each one in 2 different Barrels , one new Hungarian  Oak the other a new Re-cooped Hungarian.  Needless to say they were very proud of their wine and should have been. I had tasted it after MLF and it showed excellent promise. Now one of the wines was in a Barrel for 6 months the other 2 months.

The wine was poured and distributed to the attendees.  We all tasted them about the same time and the expressions on the faces of the winemakers were unmistakable.  Something was wrong.  It got quiet. Everyone looked at everyone else hesitant to be the first to say anything so…..I guess it was left up to me.  I declared,  “This wine is Corked!”   Hey it can happen to anyone right?   Well not so fast.  Immediately the Winemakers informed us the wine was put in the bottle that day. We all think can a wine get “corked “ in a bottle in one day?  Wait how about the bottle.  Were they new, rinsed?  Were they left in the basement?  Could the Bottle have been “corked”?

So we were left with the notion that a worst case scenario is it is possible to have TCA in a barrel, ie stinky Straw Basket Chianti.  But these barrels one was new the other recouped for the use the first time.  Both Barrels?  Naw!   So by now if you have been paying attention and if you care you are probably want to know the answer.  Not so fast  Chuckles.

Before we go on and you develop all kinds of wild theories let me at least clear a few things up for you if need be.   This odor and taste, hard to separate, is not an H2S problem with any of the associated off odors of H2S or Mercaptans.  In addition this is in no way associated with vegetal odors or under ripe grapes and those associated odors and tastes.  More about this problem,

“Cork producers have made great strides in reducing taint levels to a fraction of their former incidence. More important, it turns out that corks are just one of many possible sources of contamination: Pretty much any combination of chlorine and cellulose can do the trick, as can some kinds of wood preservatives and flame retardants that may have been used on winery equipment and materials. TCA can flourish in barrels, wood chips, cellar pallets, cardboard boxes, hoses and other equipment. In a worst case, it’s not a single bottle that’s affected but an entire tank, or an entire winery. The little bugger has several precursors and relatives, too–TBA, PCA, TeCA–enough to make up a whole family of unpleasant haloanisoles. And if your luck is running really bad, the problem won’t be discovered by your lab staff, but by a prominent wine critic who has a sensitive nose and writes for a major magazine”

So that’s it, we have haloanisoles in the wine.  Getting out the Haloanisoles. Can we?

One thing is clear these two winemakers were very dejected sitting at the end of the table considering the prospect of dumping all that wine.  All they made for that season and getting ready to bottle.  We have to do something. Suicide is not an option.

Here is one quick test I never heard of up until now.   You should try it when you have a “corked”wine. Take a mixing bowl and line it with Syran plastic wrap.  Pour half glass of wine in the bowl and swish it for a few moments.   Then taste it. Voila! Gone.  Why does this happen can be explained,

“There’s no way to “neutralize” TCA once it gets into wine; it has to be removed. The various haloanisole compounds can’t be removed with traditional filtration, or crossflow, or reverse osmosis. The only solution is to get it to stick to something, and then remove that something. TCA and its posse of precursors will stick to certain polymers. As a parlor trick, swirling a little Saran Wrap in a glass of wine can clean up TCA; this approach also can be applied at the tank scale with larger sheets of the appropriate polymers. The more sophisticated methods involve running the affected wine past a magnet medium in a closed system, with the volume of medium and the number of recirculations depending on the level of TCA contamination. The TCA will adsorb onto the polymers forever. It will be out of the wine with no impact on wine flavor or aroma–other than getting rid of the TCA. “

But there is even another way to fix this problem,

“One seemingly old-fashioned but time-tested method to remove TCA is fining the affected wine with half and half. Unlike milk fining to remove tannin, in which the milk’s casein is the agent of change, here the butterfat is what grabs the TCA. Any milk product will settle down to the bottom of a tank pretty quickly, and is followed by filtration. This may sound like a home remedy, but Bryan Tudhope of VA Filtration, which uses a very different technology, says that potential customers sometimes find the half and half approach is more cost effective for very large batches of 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of wine.”

I don’t know about you but I have trouble pouring Half and Half in my Cab Sav.  But upon further research there is a solution which makes use of plate filters.  And guess what, many of us own Buon Vino Super Jet Plate Filters collecting dust.  As it turns out the FIBRAFIX TX-R from Heyes Filters Inc.  makes a filter pad exactly for this purpose to remove TCA and TBA.  The only hitch is the pad does not have the required holes drilled for the Buon Vino Super Jet an easy fix.  So with pads ordered and delivered we arrive at the day to cure the 60 gallons of Cab Sav.

The first thing recommended by the representatives of Filtrox was to filter the wine.  We used a 0.35 micron filter to accomplish this part of the task.  With all the wine filtered we began to filter the wine now with the Filtrox TX-R Plates in the Buon Vino.  If you have used one of these before you know you can expect quite a bit of dripping and pressure beginning around 5 pounds. Not so with these filters.  Pressure started out at 15 pounds and went up to 23 pounds after 30 gallons were filtered.  Even more suprising there was no dripping to speak of.  Evidently these filters are very tight.

Obviously we could not wait to see if this was going to work.   After about 5 gallons were filtered we compared the unfiltered wine to the filtered wine.  JOY and RELIEF!   The TCA was gone.  The beautiful nose was back and the cherry taste of a new Cab had returned.  It worked!  Now the only thing left to do was to continue to monitor the results as the pads were filtering.  When we got to the end of the 30 gallons we could detect a slight TCA odor.  Very slight.  Filtrox recommended filtering more than one time.  So the entire 30 gallons was filtered again removing all traces.   Truly remarkable to have a problem never before experienced and getting it fixed too.

I am sure some of you are still asking the question how did this wine get infected.  After careful inspection and discussion the following became known.  The household water has a great deal of chlorine in it.  Make no mistake it is really present. The Hose used to fill the barrels when rehydrating is a suspect.  When the barrels were rehydrated no Meta was used and for the wine with the worst condition of TCA (the new barrel) took 3 weeks to seal.  The re-coop barrel sealed in a few days and that wine had much less TCA.  Did the Chlorine in the water somehow combine with the oak of the barrels causing this problem?  I am not a chemist and I have no idea if it is even possible but I do know the wine that never saw a barrel ( 2 carboys  one for each wine) did not have the problem.

The Moral of the Story.   Between Stuck Fermentations and TCA one thing is clear. When you think you have this winemaking thing down pat.  Think again you don’t.  There is always a new challenge around the next corner. And probably the most important thing to learn is never give up on a wine.

Phil and John
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