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Old 10-24-2010, 06:27 PM   #1
davefr
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Default Will this wine fermenter overflow??

This is my first wine making attempt. There's 200 lbs of grapes in this 24 gallon fermenter. Yeast will be pitched tonight. I'm just wondering if the 6-8" left to the brim of the fermenter is enough extra for the cap and fermentation process?

TIA



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Old 10-24-2010, 08:29 PM   #2
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That is one lotta stems I see in there. Well, maybe not for some but for me -- I don't allow any, they'll make things pretty puckery down the road. That may just be my experience, though.

I think you'll have issues. Is there any way to get another one and split the must between the two? Or, a Rubbermaid BRUTE* grey garbage can, 32-gallon with cover, was only $26 at my local Lowe's just about 5 or 6 weeks ago. It's a perfectly acceptable fermenter and will give you a LOT more cushion than you've got there. Also if you have any food processors or import/export businesses around you, they may be willing to give or sell you containers that held olives or olive oil or whatever (non-toxic) other ingredients; I've got a 50-gallon one with large screw-on 2-piece lid that's terrific (got it from a guy that got it from a local importer, it held olives from Italy!). No odors, and it's perfect as a wine primary fermentor.

The cap will definitely rise, especially once fermentation is underway. Any cloth you have covering the bucket will almost certainly come in contact with the cap and will become "juiced" enough that any fruit flies landing on the towel or whatever will only have to lay their eggs on the cloth, without needing direct contact with the must, and the maggots will hatch and migrate through the cloth into your fermenting wine.

The good news is that you only need the primary for a week or less and then you'll be pressing the pomace. The bad news is that you'll need the primary for about a week or less and you have to punch the cap down at least twice a day until you press the pomace.

Even if you cover with the lid, I THINK you'll still have a lot of pressure pushing against the lid from the inside. 6-8" seems like a lot of room now, but when things get going with the ferment, it MAY not be enough. I know that it isn't with me and my grapes, but what I do isn't necessarily going to be your experience; I put all my grapes into nylon pressing bags, as many as I need to hold the grapes (sometimes before crush, and crush them in the bags, sometimes crush and then pour into the bags that are suspended over the fermentor -- either way, the pulp is in bags and the bags are tied closed and placed in the fermentor), and that may account for why I need a LOT more headspace than that (the 6-8" you've got) since the bags may force the pulp to have a lot more bouyancy than yours will have. I confess, I have no idea on that one since I've only ever, always, used bags.

On the other hand, others may join in here and tell you (and me) that I'm more full of crap than your fermentor is full of grapes.

I do have to say, that's a really nice picture, isn't it? Congrats on your bounty of grapes! You've gotta be stoked... especially being your first ferment! 200 freakin' POUNDS of grapes!!! Start asking around for empty bottles NOW, lol!!! You're gonna love it. BTW, what kind of grapes are they? And do you have a recipe that you're following?

Hopefully others will chime in. I wish you great success!

- Tim



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Old 10-24-2010, 08:33 PM   #3
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You should be alright. Wine fermentation are not as vigorous as beer fermentation, because of the lack of proteins. But, I've never fermented whole fruit, so my answer could be wrong. Hopefully someone with more experience will chime in.

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Old 10-24-2010, 08:42 PM   #4
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You should be alright. Wine fermentation are not as vigorous as beer fermentation, because of the lack of proteins. But, I've never fermented whole fruit, so my answer could be wrong. Hopefully someone with more experience will chime in.
Oh, I think the cap will definitely need more space! The grapes will "float", too.

I agree about the stems- I don't allow any stems in my wine beyond a few that sneak in. The grapes should be crushed and destemmed prior to yeast being added. I can't tell in the picture, but it looks like you might have skipped crushing, also?
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Old 10-24-2010, 08:47 PM   #5
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When the ferment is going strong, punching down the cap (or bags, in my case) displaces not only a lot of juice but it also displaces a lot of CO2 as well; I've had times when I was grateful for the extra foot or so headspace when everything foamed-up and almost spilled over.

Again, that's with bags, the way I do it. Your way, davefr, is the more common way, and may not give you any grief whatsoever. If it becomes an issue, you'd be safe splitting it up between two primaries should you find the need to do so. I'd recommend having something ready. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

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Old 10-24-2010, 08:48 PM   #6
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I didn't think about the cap. I apologize for the bogus reply. Listen to Yooper, she is an excellent wine maker. You can't go wrong with her advice.

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Old 10-24-2010, 08:50 PM   #7
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P.S. - remember to use an appropriate amount of pectic enzyme! At least, I'd highly recommend it... but again, I use bags, and the enzyme might make things a lot messier without bags, idk.

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Old 10-24-2010, 09:43 PM   #8
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Oh, I think the cap will definitely need more space! The grapes will "float", too.

I agree about the stems- I don't allow any stems in my wine beyond a few that sneak in. The grapes should be crushed and destemmed prior to yeast being added. I can't tell in the picture, but it looks like you might have skipped crushing, also?
No, they were run through a professional crusher/destemer machine this morning. These stems are just fragments that the machine didn't reject.

I'm pitching in just a few hours. Should I transfer some of this must into a 7 gallon bucket and ferment it seperately?

I could also run down to Lowes and get a 32 but can but I thought all this should be food grade plastic?

Thanks
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:46 PM   #9
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No, they were run through a professional crusher/destemer machine this morning. These stems are just fragments that the machine didn't reject.

I'm pitching in just a few hours. Should I transfer some of this must into a 7 gallon bucket and ferment it seperately?

I could also run down to Lowes and get a 32 but can but I thought all this should be food grade plastic?

Thanks
Ah, good to know about the stems. Details are hard to see in pictures sometimes.

You can just pull out some of the grapes and do the primary in another bucket- the 7 gallon would be fine. Once the primary is finished up, you can recombine in the carboys/demijohns or whatever you are using.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:51 PM   #10
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The Rubbermaid BRUTE in grey, white, and I think yellow are perfectly acceptable. I'd highly recommend that you do a search, there's been a LOT of discussion about this before, and then you can read it for yourself and put your concerns to rest about using one.

If you've already got a 7-gallon, I'd suggest (and Yooper, jump in and correct me - BTW, that's one wonderful little grandbaby you've got there! My "baby" is now 21 and in her last year of college. ) going ahead and pitching the yeast so that it's throughout the entire must, leaving it for the first 12-24 hours and then dividing. Otherwise I'd definitely go with a larger (32 gallon or bigger) container before pitching.

Keep us posted and remember to ask question early-on!

- Tim



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