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Old 09-21-2009, 07:00 PM   #1
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Default Aging wine in barrels

We are moving and the new house has enough room for me to store real wine barrels. So I was going to make a couple of batches of wine and barrel it. If I do, do I not need to put oak chips in the fermentation stage or just count on the barrel for the oak infusion? I was planning on keeping it in the barrel for a year. Also I assume I make the wine as usual and when I would normally bottle it, I put it in the barrel instead. I was thinking of getting the grapes myself and crushing them instead of kits which would be really expensive in quantity. What are good sources for Cab Sav/Franc grapes?

Once I bottle from the barrel, can the wine be opened at any time after that with no additional wait?

Can anyone give me some pointers/advice on doing this?

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Old 09-21-2009, 08:06 PM   #2
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i cant answer all your questions. but if your going to age in the in real barrels you dont need to add oak chips. oak chips are for carboy aging because glass dose not impart any flavor.

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Old 09-21-2009, 08:51 PM   #3
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Are you thinking of full size barrels? They are very difficult to handle in a house/basement situation. normally you would use barrel racks and a forklift. You also need a special pump for wine and storage containers to rack to. You need large fermenters for that quantity of wine and a crusher/destemmer and press. You can often buy the grapes already crushed from a winery.
Selecting the grapes is very important if you want to go to that much trouble/expense. No point doing it with low quality grapes, and there is usually plenty of low quality cab sav around, its quite a difficult variety to do well. Maybe try an easier variety like syrah or zin.

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Old 09-21-2009, 08:55 PM   #4
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I know there are people around here who buy wine juice (already pressed) right from the Finger Lakes wineries. Might be worth a few phone calls, either to the wineries or maybe to your local HBS, they might have a lead on any places that do the same down there.

As to the oaking question, from the little bit that I know I think this may depend on how old the barrels are and how many times they've been used. Wineries don't reuse oak barrels indefinately for a reason.

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Old 09-21-2009, 09:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbathurst View Post
Are you thinking of full size barrels? They are very difficult to handle in a house/basement situation. normally you would use barrel racks and a forklift. You also need a special pump for wine and storage containers to rack to. You need large fermenters for that quantity of wine and a crusher/destemmer and press. You can often buy the grapes already crushed from a winery.
Selecting the grapes is very important if you want to go to that much trouble/expense. No point doing it with low quality grapes, and there is usually plenty of low quality cab sav around, its quite a difficult variety to do well. Maybe try an easier variety like syrah or zin.
This will be the smaller 10 or 15 gallon barrels.
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Old 09-21-2009, 09:56 PM   #6
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What you're proposing is easier said than done. There's a lot involved in making quality wine. You need to know your PH, TA, total SO2, and how to adjust for them in addition to several other factors. It's a rewarding hobby but it takes a lot of practice and study to get a quality product.

As for barrel aging, you can't simply put a wine in a barrel and say you're going to leave it for a year, especially in a small barrel. I have two that I've been using for 2-3 years. One is a 5-gallon and the other's a 7- gallon. You need to begin tasting the wine in a new barrel after a few short weeks because it doesn't take long at all for your wine to get completely overwhelmed by oak. Each successive batch of wine you place in the barrel will require progressively longer exposure time until the barrel is finally "neutral". At this time you can continue getting the benefits of barrel aged wine but you'll just have to use oak additions to get the oak flavor and aroma.

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