Sunday, November 2, 2008

Not Done Yet?

Alicia made a trip up to the Shier on Friday afternoon. When she arrived, the house was ice cold. The thermostat read 45 degrees -- indicating that the furnace was malfunctioning and likely off for the past three days. It gets worse. A 30 foot tree has fallen in the backyard. Luckily it only grazed the trellis on the back of the house. Alicia calls me at work. She goes downstairs. There is the sound of a high pitch squeal. I ask her what that Winepod screen says. Alicia can see the reflection of the lamp in the Winepod display, but there are no numbers. The squeal is unbearable. The Winepod is off and has been off since the power failure on Tuesday morning. Alicia presses the reset button on the battery backup and the squeal stops. She presses it again and the Winepod comes back on. What kind of battery backup leaves you shut down when the power returns? Unbelievable.

The must is 54F and the brix is 6. The yeast can survive down to 50 degrees, but not below 50. Did the temperature drop below 50F in the past three days? I fear all is lost and the yeast is dead. The heater on the Winepod gradually raises the temperature of the must back to 61F. Based on the brix reading, it is apparent that little fermentation has taken place in the last three days. Alicia restarts the furnace and checks inside the Winepod. Good news. The yeast is alive and fizzing.

Alicia picks me up at the train station in Poughkeepsie and we go to have dinner in New Paltz. It is Halloween. All the New Paltz kids are walking the streets in costume.

When we return, the house has warmed into the 60s. The brix has dropped below 5. It is clear now that fermentation continued through the week, albeit at a much slower pace. Primary fermentation will not be complete this weekend and likely not until the middle of next week.

Over the next two days, I use an axe from the garage and a small handsaw to remove the tree. I clear the leaves with a gas blower. I check the brix with the hyrdrometer. It reads 1014. By 9PM on Sunday the brix meter reads 3.37. I plug the Winepod back into the well. It turns out that the battery backup failed because the Winepod uses more than 500VA. I put a thermometer on a stick in front of the camera (as shown above). This will allow me to monitor the temperature in the basement over the internet, which will be important for secondary fermentation.

One more thing. I couldn't resist taking a sip of the wine. With the fizzing carbonation and remaining sugar content, the wine tastes like a mimosa.

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