How To Make White Wine

Home White Winemaking Instructions

How To Make White Wine - Step-by-Step

 

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 oak, if appropriate.
Rack to bottling container, add sulfite, fill and cork bottles.
1 to 2 weeks
1 month
2 to 4 months
In the spring

 

FIRST, BE SURE YOU HAVE THE NECESSARY EQUIPMENT AND INGREDIENTS.  You may like to review our list of standard winemaking equipment and ingredients here. Then proceed with the following process to make white wine.

 

  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 .65%, add enough tartaric acid to bring it up to that level. If you have a pH meter, calibrate it and test the pH as well.

  3. Test for sugar with your hydrometer. Correct any deficiencies by adding enough sugar to bring the reading up to 20° brix for most varieties (22° for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.) If higher than 26° brix, add water to lower it between 22° and 26°.

  4. When these tests and corrections have been completed, the must should be sulfited. Add enough sulfite to give you a sulfur dioxide (SO2) level between 50 and 130 parts per million (ppm). If you plan to add a Malolactic culture, keep this addition below 50 ppm. Refer here for further sulfite instructions. The amount needed will depend on the condition of the grapes, with moldy grapes getting the most concentrated dose. Extremely clean grapes may be fermented with little or no SO2. 
  5. Stir in pectic enzyme (pectinase) at the rate of one ounce to every 200 lbs. of grapes, or use Lallzyme™ Cuvée-Blanc. Place the crushed grapes in a covered container to macerate from 2 to 12 hours. 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.  This settling step is best performed at refrigeration temperatures.
  7. Siphon the clear juice away from the layer of settlings (called "gross lees") into a sealed fermentor which is filled no more than 3/4 full, fitted with an airlock for pressure relief.  Consider using FT Blanc Soft Enological Tannin to increase mouthfeel and/or Glutastar™ Inactivated Yeast to increase mouthfeel and reduce oxidation during aging. If using either, mix it with the juice during the transfer to the fermentor(s).  Yeast should be added, 1g per gallon and a fermentation lock attached to the fermentor. Add nutrients such as Fermaid K and/or DAP after visible signs of fermentation have begun.
  8. When visible signs of fermentation end, the wine must be racked off the lees, and placed in topped up and sealed storage containers fitted with airlocks for pressure relief.
  9. OPTIONAL - Add a Malolactic bacteria culture to the wine.  This is common for Chardonnay, and sometimes Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. In the case of direct pitch strains like Enoferm Alpha™ or Viniflora™, the bacteria is added to the secondary fermentor(s) after pressing.  If you inoculate for ML, test the wine to be sure it is complete after 3 weeks.
  10. If no ML culture is added, the wine can be racked when the sugar fermentation is complete.  Test for completion of sugar fermentation with a residual sugar test or endpoint precision hydrometer.  The hydrometer reading should be -1.5 to -2° brix. Another sign of completion is that the wine will begin to clarify, generally 1-2 weeks after pressing If your sugar fermentation is complete, rack the wine off the gross lees into clean, sanitized storage containers. Top up the containers, add enough sulfite to achieve 30-50 ppm of free SO2 (total SO2 needed will be much higher), and let stand for a month in cool storage. If ML fermentation is still active do not add sulfite during this time and wait until the ML fermentation is complete before you rack off the lees.  If you inoculated for ML, test the wine to be sure it is complete.  When ML is complete, you may proceed with racking and sulfiting.
  11. If the wine isn't clearing, fine with Sparkolloid or a Bentonite slurry. Clarity occurs by three months. Sulfite and store full containers in a cool place.
  12. In a couple of months, rack and sulfite the wine again, placing it back in topped up containers. Raise the sulfite to at least 30-50 ppm free SO2, and maintain a cool place for aging. If ML fermentation has not completed, consider adding Bactiless or EnartisStab Micro to stabilize the wine. For oak flavor add oak sticks or cubes. If additional high-quality French oak character would benefit your wine, use Tannin Riche enological finishing tannin.
  13. In late Spring, 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 30-50 parts per million.
  14. Siphon into bottles, cork them, and set them aside for whatever bottle aging is needed. Keep the bottles neck-up for one week to allow the corks time to expand, then move the cases to their side or upside down for storage. Bottling time is your last opportunity to make sure the wine will be bottle stable, so test and adjust the sulfite to 30-50 ppm free SO2. If this is a sweet wine, add Sorbistat to keep the wine from further fermentation.  White wines may be enjoyed 6 weeks after bottling.

 

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