making quality wine in a conical fermenter? - Home Brew Forums

Register Now!
Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Winemaking Forum > making quality wine in a conical fermenter?

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 11-18-2011, 05:50 AM   #1
beerhound28
Recipes 
 
Nov 2011
LB, north east
Posts: 149


Hello everyone
Does anybody know if you can make wine in a conical fermenter? I have one of those plastic mini brew 6.5 gallon conical fermenters and i want to give wine a shot..Would it be possible to ferment from start to finish without moving the wine? thanks

 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2011, 06:30 AM   #2
billtzk
Recipes 
 
Apr 2007
Dallas
Posts: 1,624
Liked 23 Times on 21 Posts


Possible, yes, but not a good idea. Wine needs to be racked a minimum of twice before bottling. The first time to get it off the lees of primary fermentation. The second time to aid clearing and to help get the CO2 out before bottling. The latter takes some effort, in fact. Violent agitation during the second racking will help, but you may also need to vacuum degas.

Are you making wine from a six gallon kit? Most are 6 gallons. If so, 6.5 gallon capacity is 1/2 gallon low at the minimum. An 8 to 10 gallon primary would be best for six gallons. It should be covered, but it doesn't need to be airtight. Food safe 10 gallon trash can works well.

Primary fermentation requires daily stirring, especially if you need to punch down the cap that forms from seeds and stems and grape skins when making wine from the high-end kits or from scratch.

The conical would be ok for short term secondary before final racking to a glass carboy for bulk aging before bottling. Wine is sensitive to oxidation, moreso than beer is in my judgment. You want the final racking to go to a non-oxygen permeable vessel (e.g. a glass carboy with airlock) that leaves little exposure to oxygen. A six gallon wine kit should end up in a six gallon carboy. Add bottled wine as necessary to bring the volume to within 2 inches of the top.


I forgot to add, Yooper is more of an expert than I. If she chimes in, listen to her.
__________________
Reality is a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs. -Lily Tomlin

 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2011, 06:52 AM   #3
beerhound28
Recipes 
 
Nov 2011
LB, north east
Posts: 149

thanks alot for the input..

 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2011, 04:16 PM   #4
DoctorCAD
Recipes 
 
Jun 2008
Fayetteville, NC
Posts: 1,343
Liked 105 Times on 98 Posts


Hmmm...I always thought the benefits of a conical fermenter was its ability to not have to rack off the lees (by opening the valve on the bottom, the lees are removed), no worry about headspace (because it is a closed system) and no worries about oxygen infiltration (because of the closed system thing).

I have been tossing getting one for those reasons.

Is my knowledge incorrect???

pumpkinman2012 Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-18-2011, 11:04 PM   #5
Blanchy
Recipes 
 
Feb 2011
Union, Maine
Posts: 77

^That's what I thought too...

 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2011, 12:09 AM   #6
billtzk
Recipes 
 
Apr 2007
Dallas
Posts: 1,624
Liked 23 Times on 21 Posts


DoctorCAD, you thought right, but the benefits you mention are for beer, not wine, which was what the OP asked about.

How are you going to punch down the cap if the wine is fermenting in a conical? Many wine kits come with bags of oak to simulate the conditions in a oak barrel. It is most often added during primary fermentation. This oak may be any grade from finely ground sawdust to chipped wood to 1/2 inch square or larger chunks, or occassionally staves, curls, or rods. You'll either dump it out of your conical too early, or clog up your drain valve.

If it's wine from scratch, you'll actually be fermenting the crushed grapes if it is a red wine. Red grapes are destemmed, crushed and fermented with the skin and pulp for several days and then subsequently pressed. You'll have to be able to get them out of your fermentation vessel to press them.

When you dump the lees after primary fermentation, you'll have to let in air at the top of the conical. During secondary, the oxygen in air will oxidize your wine and ruin it.

There are conicals and cylinders and vats with dump valves that are made for wine fermentation, but they aren't sealed. They have tops that are removable for primary fermentation, and floating lids for secondary.


One other thing. Conicals aren't entirely sealed systems. Usually they have a port at the top to add wort, and a hole for an airlock, and sometimes a relief valve of some kind. You have to open the valve or remove the airlock to let air in when you dump the yeast and trub. If you don't let air in, the water from your airlock will be sucked into your beer.
__________________
Reality is a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs. -Lily Tomlin

 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2011, 01:32 AM   #7
DoctorCAD
Recipes 
 
Jun 2008
Fayetteville, NC
Posts: 1,343
Liked 105 Times on 98 Posts


But all of those things you mention happen daily with glass carboys and plastic pails.

Wine making is not an exercise in "hiding" from bugs and germs and the dreaded oxygen. The high alcohol keeps lots of that stuff from being a problem. and micro-oxygenation is actually a benefit to wine making.

Oh well, everyone has their opinions...

 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-19-2011, 07:11 AM   #8
billtzk
Recipes 
 
Apr 2007
Dallas
Posts: 1,624
Liked 23 Times on 21 Posts


I don't follow you, DoctorCAD. I ferment my beer in a Blichmann 14.5 gallon Ferminator. That's a conical fermentation vessel. It has a removable lid. I could use it for primary fermentation of wine, but I wouldn't. A gray or white 10 gallon Brute trash can with lid is much easier to use for wine. They are FDA-approved food safe containers, light weight, easy to clean and sanitize.

The wine lees are full of wood chunks and//or grape skins that I don't want to try to pass through my ball valve dump, so I don't gain any advantage by having a ball valve. You have to open the lid to remove the grape skins (or raisins). You rack off the lees, leaving the wood behind. So what does using a conical buy you? Nothing but more bother than a trash can.

Unlike beer, wine has to be racked a number of times. The flat out minimum to obtain reasonably sediment free and CO2 free beer is twice. Twice is not enough for anyone who wants clear wine with no residual CO2, which makes the wine taste like crap. Three or four rackings is better. It has to undergo secondary fermentation off the lees (with a few exceptions). It will not oxidize during primary fermentation. But it does need an air-tight air-locked vessel for secondary fermentation. Head space is OK at that stage as there is still CO2 being produced.

It will oxidize if it is left in the presence of oxygen during secondary fermentation if air is admitted after fermentation slows, and during bulk aging. During bulk aging (or the clearing stage), there is no CO2 to protect the wine from oxidation. You have to remove the CO2 when racking out of secondary into your bulk aging or clearing vessel. You can't have any headspace. A conical, unless it has a floating lid, is not a suitable vessel for bulk aging especially because you cannot eliminate all the air from it.

I don't get your point about "hiding" from bugs. WIne is less susceptible to infection than beer. That's one reason why it is normally not fermented in an air tight sealed primary.
__________________
Reality is a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs. -Lily Tomlin

Honda88 Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2015, 05:20 PM   #9
Ronald
Recipes 
 
Nov 2015
Posts: 1

Yes Beerhound28, you can use a conical fermenter to make wine from start to finish although I would not recommend it. Your outcome would leave you with a nearly undrinkable wine.

As a professional winemaker I enjoy giving advice to new wine enthusiasts but I've decided to change my post after getting bashed below by Brewhound28. With that said, regardless of whether you are making wine from crushed grapes or a wine kit there are two major issues that you will run into that will negatively effect the quality of your wine. The first during primary fermentation when the top level floating sediment begins to form. Because there is no way to completely remove the sediment from a single tank, racking the wine into another tank and leaving the sediment behind is necessary. If you leave the dead yeast sediments in the tank it will ruin the batch. The second issue would be after you use a stabilizer like potassium sorbate to stop fermentation. At this point the sediment will sink to the bottom. If you are not on the ball with releasing the sediment from the lower valve of a conical fermenter it will harden to the point where the valve will not drain. Failure to rack the wine off of the lower sediments will also negatively effect the quality of your wine.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2015, 04:35 AM   #10
pumpkinman2012
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
 
pumpkinman2012's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Jan 2013
, New York
Posts: 1,116
Liked 140 Times on 126 Posts


The original poster - Brewhound28 asked:
Quote:
Does anybody know if you can make wine in a conical fermenter?
The answer is Yes it can, Billtzk has addressed almost every variable and a bunch of potential issues.... the original question is "Does anybody know if you can make wine in a conical fermenter?", not "tell me how I cannot use the Conical fermenter for wine."

Instead of writing a 3 page essay on why and how Brewhound28 shouldn't use the conical fermenter when we don't even know what kind of wine he will be making, my guess is that it will be a kit, if that is correct, the conical will be perfect, you wont have to worry about grape skins and punching down, if oak is included, put it in a muslin bag and tie it off and toss it in the fermenter.

As far as the wine "must be racked a minimum of twice"...? where did this rule come from?
If you're able to get rid of the lees/sediment by opening the valve, that solves that issue, no need to rack it off the lees, you'll be draining the lees off.

Aging the wine in the fermenter is something that I'm not familiar with, but I am fairly certain that it can be done.
Another question that came up is "how are you going to punch down the cap"...again, I don't see the problem, punch down the cap like you would do with any other fermenter.

I'm always curious what people mean when they say "secondary fermentation?" ...
The only secondary fermentation would be Malolactic fermentation, you may rack into a secondary container to age, but the only fermentations are the Alcoholic fermentation, and Malolactic fermentation.

I hope that Brewhound28 does a little research and finds out that not all of the advice that is posted is good advice, private message me, I'm glad to help.
__________________
I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.
- Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Lauritsen Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Reply
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Experienced winemaker, ... why has my wine a 'mecidinal' quality? Clangeroo Winemaking Forum 8 03-05-2011 08:03 PM
Wine Experiment turned into Quality Champagne... Opsamk Winemaking Forum 2 01-05-2011 03:00 AM
first wine- what kit and conical questions hobbsj Winemaking Forum 2 04-29-2010 06:43 PM
wine kit quality question stormrider27 Winemaking Forum 6 03-25-2010 03:27 AM
brewers thoughts on home wine quality gawine Winemaking Forum 18 01-11-2010 07:28 PM


Forum Jump