Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cider and Riesling Year Two

On October 23-24, Alicia and I made a trip back to the vineyard at Keuka Lake to pick up this year's Riesling grape juice. We brought Maya along, our little Cairn terrier. It was raining most of the trip. The Finger Lakes received much less sun in the summer of 2009 as compared to 2008. The result is a lower available sugar content in the grapes and ridiculously high acidity. Tom, the owner of the vineyard treated the juice with potassium bicarbonate to drop the acid a little. He measured a starting Brix of 19.4 and a total acidity of 1.036. I purchased five pounds of dextrose to make up the sugar shortfall. When I later measured starting Brix after loading my juice into the Winepod, I came up with 20.4 -- somewhat better. Perhaps Tom took his measurement before the entire crop was crushed. Adding the 5 pounds of dextrose gave me a theoretical fermentation starting Brix of 23, although I could not take an exact measurement at the time with the sugar still dissolving in the tank. I calibrated the Winepod's Brix sensor at 23. After one week, the sensor showed 17, and my hydrometer measured 18. I have reasonable confidence that my Winepod sensor is accurate to within one degree of Brix. I plan to give the wine 3 weeks primary fermentation in the Winepod tank at 61-62 degrees F, the same as last year.

One of the new Riesling carboys, ready for fermentation in the Winepod. This year's crop is not nearly as oxidized as last year's. This means I will not have to work as hard to get the color right. It already has a superb golden color.
Cider Carboy 2, cleared, racked, and charged with caramel and vanilla corn syrup, ready for bottling on a cloudy fall day in ye old Esopus.

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