Winemaking Articles and Info > Wine Article: White Winemaking


1. Crush the grapes to break the skins. It is not necessary to de-stem them. Keep the grapes as cool as possible.

2. Test for total acidity. If the acidity is less than .7%, add enough tartaric acid to bring it up to that level.

3. Test for sugar with your hydrometer. Correct any deficiencies by adding enough sugar to bring the reading up to 20% (20 ° brix) for most varieties (22% for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.)

4. When these tests and corrections have been completed, the must should be sulfited. Estimating that you will get roughly a gallon of juice from every 16 lbs. of grapes (varies with the variety), add enough sulfite to give you a sulfur dioxide (SO2) level between 50 and 120 parts per million (ppm.). The amount needed will depend on the condition of the grapes, with moldy grapes getting the most concentrated dose.

5. Stir in pectic enzyme at the rate of one ounce to every 200 lbs. of grapes. Place the crushed grapes in a covered container to stand from 2 to 18 hours (longer for the "big, less fruity" varieties. If left to stand longer than 2 hours at this stage, the crushed grapes should be refrigerated.

6. The grapes are then pressed to separate the juice from the skins. Funnel the juice into topped up containers, cover, and let stand for approximately 24 hours.

7. Siphon the clear juice away from the layer of settlings into a glass, stainless steel, or oak fermentor which is filled no more than 3/4 full. Yeast should be added, a fermentation lock attached to the fermentor, and fermentation allowed to procede. Add also a 1/4 oz. of yeast food for every 5 gallons of juice.

8. When visible signs of fermentation end, the wine must be racked off the lees, sulfited, and placed in topped up storage containers (glass, stainless, or oak). Let stand for a month.

9. Rack off the lees and fine. Add sulfite and store stopped full in a cool location.

10. In February or March, rack and sulfite the wine again, placing it back in topped up containers. This is a good time to filter the wine if you are going to do so. Add Oakboy or oak extract now.

11. In late April or early May, before the onset of very hot weather, carefully rack the wine from the lees. Test the wine for free sulfite content with a sulfur dioxide test kit to determine how much SO2 is needed to bring the level to 30-35 parts per million.
Siphon into bottles, cork them, and set them aside for whatever bottle aging is needed. If you wish to sweeten the wine, do so with simple syrup (two parts sugar to one part water, boiled), and add 1/2 tsp. Stabilizer per gallon to kill any remaining yeast.
Light, fruity, white wines may be enjoyed within two months after bottling.

Time Line of White Wine Fermentation

Juice Fermentation with yeast in Primary Fermentors 3/4 full
Rack finished wine to clean fermentors, topped full. Settle out lees. Sulfite
Rack off lees and fine or filter. Add sulfite and keep cool. Add Oakboy
Rack to bottling container, add sulfite, fill and cork bottles.
1 to 2 weeks
1 month
2 to 4 months
In the spring


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