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Rack-Fest

10.28.10

Okay. So I underestimated the work involved in making this volume of wine. Yesterday things needed racking, and wow did it add up to a lot of work – I started around 1, took a break to feed the family and bathe the kids, then back to racking, finishing at about 8pm. I learned, through the tedium of this task, that I quite don’t like siphoning, but do get a perverse satisfaction cleaning carboys of their gross less. I also learned that there are few efficiencies in making more.

How much wine? Just under 9 carboys = 270 bottles or so or about 22 cases, a portion allocated to those who helped me during harvest/crush season of course.

The very exciting part of the process is having the opportunity to spend some time with each batch, smelling it, tasting it, getting to know it. And the extremely exciting part this year is having some really cool variation – one of the batches looks, smells, and tastes like pink grapefruit wine – made from an unidentified crabapple.

As I thought about where the wines were headed, assuming malo-lactic fermentation was in their future, I realized that my new root cellar was fridge-temp, meaning I had the opportunity to cold stabilize the whole lot if I wanted. I’m hoping it means I can keep them very stable, clear, and fruit forward for drinking through the winter, and then as the cellar warms in the spring likely prompting malolactic fermenation, I can then oak those with the body to deserve it for late-summer/fall consumption.

This being my second vintage with some of the fruit, I can see why winemaking would get into your blood. There’s a very slow yet dynamic process as one vintage wraps into and past the other, accumulating into a very long and involved relationship between the fruit and your life. It’s quite something. Something I didn’t get from drinking purchased wine prior, no matter how posh.

13 Responses

  1. Mel says:

    Kudos to you for taking the step from wine enjoyment to wine making. It’s certainly no small feat, and I’m sure the wine will give you boundless pleasure as you experience it throughout its life cycle.

    Also, given that pink grapefruit is one of my favourite flavours ever, I think I’m going to have to hit you up for a bottle of that crab apple wine.

  2. Yeah. If you dig pink grapefruit, you really should try this. Way more intense than a white grape wine’s grapefruitness. Many magnitudes more.

  3. TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY BOTTLES!!!!!! AND WHO is paying for all of those? From now on, I am saving ALL of my wine bottles to donate to the Kevin Kossowan Apple Wine Overload. Holy BULL COW!! You remind me of myself in SOSOSOSOSO may ways (only the good ones). I get so into something and then realize I could NEVER use all of this …. well, maybe you can if you drink a bottle every other day – even with giving some away and aging some!!!!
    I love your last line…
    and the passion you have written about your relationship with the fruit with. What is racking. I will google it… but does that mean bottling the wine? If you did all of that in less than 8 hours, I bow to you.
    I hope I have some bottles to drop off tomorrow. I will check.
    :)
    Valerie

  4. Valerie – thankfully, wine ages very well, if not better in large volumes. So it can bulk-age in carboys, and be bottled as required. I also have many cases of empties already, so no need to donate to my cause – although I really do appreciate the thought!

    Racking is siphoning off the clear stuff from the sediment, really. After the alcoholic fermentation the wine drops a bunch of dead yeast sludge that needs to be disposed of, so I siphoned off the clear wine, and rinsed out the lees. I’ll have to do it again later as the wine continues to drop sediment over the next few months.

    And it will get used – no worries there. In cooking, sharing, drinking, other uses. Quite a few cases will got to those who helped make it. I also will cellar the better quality stuff that’s seen some time on oak to continue my research on how this stuff ages. Ask me next year this time how much of the 2010 vintage I have left, and you may be surprised.

  5. Barry says:

    With that much volume, you could experiment with blending vintages, or even blending applewine with say, your sasskatoon wine, or pomegranite wine…ad nauseum…

    Racking is very time consuming, I don’t have near the volume you do Kevin, but I finally managed to invest in the largest diameter racking cane and tube i could find, and that helped a lot. Still tedious but rewarding at the same time.

    ~Barry

  6. Barry – I hadn’t considered blending vintages, as I had so little of last year’s – but good idea.
    I have already been blending these batches, with excellent success. I’ve also been playing with simple syrup to balance the acidity on the stuff I have on the fridge. Wouldn’t do it other than for quick consumption for fear of another fermentation…

    I went to bed thinking of 3/4 pex hose. I have some spare, and man that’d be faster, maybe too fast at the end, potentially sucking up sediment?

  7. Alan says:

    Wow! Wish I was where you are. I’m trying my hand at cider this year. Made good beer in the past, so it seemed like a short step. Our apple trees are just past the stick stage, so I’m using unpasturized cider from an Amish orchard up the road from us. It’s really nice fresh, so I hope it will make good hard cider. The fermenting seems to be slowing down. Exciting.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. alan says:

    Kevin,
    How long do you leave it sitting on the lees befor racking off?

  9. Alan – once the lees drop, I rack asap. The lees can get pretty stinky.

  10. jeff says:

    wondering what level of sweetening you may or may not be planning to do with your multitude of different apple wines?

    My last batch I ended up sweetening with wine conditioner which surprisingly restarted fermentation way way after it had gone through primary ( months ) but i hadn’t used any sorbate. Ive since learned that wine conditioner is the worst sugar type product you can use for back sweetening. real sugar or dextrose is my preferred choice now.

    OF my two carboys of this years batch, the small one i am going for a sweet almost strongbow like finished product while with the large batch I am going for all natural flavor but with heavy oak addition. I really ought to try one the spirals that you use.
    cheers

  11. Apparently you need to have us over for the racking process!

    See you soon,

    Kristeva

  12. Jeff – I won’t back sweeten in general. I’m not a fan of sweet wines, for one, and am not interested in the instability it would potentially cause. My solution is simple syrup to balance acidity at time of serving for those that would like. I used wine conditioner years ago, but purchasing special sweetener when you can make simple syrup seems unnecessary.

    The spirals are of surprisingly high quality. A bit pricey, but they go a long way.

  13. Kristeva – yeah. Or need to built a racking want made of 3/4″ pex so it’s 10x faster. It’s in the works.

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