Friday, February 29, 2008

Sourcing Grapes for 2008

Today Provina president Greg Snell and I went to visit vineyards in Napa and Sonoma, looking for 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon for WinePod clients. It is shaping up to be an interesting year for grape contracts. Prices are up – way up. Where fruit went unsold the last couple of years, I have heard that 80% of the vineyards in Napa are already contracted for the year, before budbreak.

I am not clear why this is happening. The supply has not changed – at least I have not noticed North Coast vineyards being pulled or replanted any more than usual, and have no reason to believe that we are headed for a massive frost or other crop failure. So if supply is unchanged, rising prices must be due to rising costs of production and/or rising demand.

Certainly costs of production are up – way up. Labor costs are up. Workmans' comp costs have risen dramatically for the last 5 years. While I'm confident that the vast majority of North Coast vineyard managers employ only properly documented labor, the crackdown on undocumented immigrants has created fears of labor shortages and increased costs. Fuel costs are certainly up, as is the cost of capital. And since much vineyard capital equipment is imported, the weak dollar is also having an effect. But these costs have been going up for years, while grape prices have been steady, or even falling.

Which suggests that the main driver of the contract price jump is increased demand in 2008 – hard to believe in the current economic climate, but remember that grapes purchased this year won't impact the wine supply for 3-5 years. Apparently the smart guys out there are betting that we are now at or near the bottom of the business cycle.

Whatever the causes, 2008 grapes for the WinePod will cost more than the 2007 fruit, period – just as they will for commercial producers. I'm happy to say that the vineyards we contacted yesterday appear to be able to supply fruit of a high quality, worthy of the cost. We are still looking, but IMO we are going to have to make offers and have them accepted in the next couple of weeks.

And if this is what we are up against for Cabernet, I just can't wait to see what we will face when we look for Pinot Noir.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Added Malolactic Culture

Today I punched into the Napa River Ranch Cabernet: 2.5 grams of Enoferm Alpha freeze-dried malolactic culture, rehydrated according to the manufacturer's directions. The wine smells great; the texture on the palate is fairly tannic.

I have completed 14 of a planned 18 punchdowns. I am thinking that I will press this lot off on 03/04/08 to duplicate the total time of cuvaison from the Rancho Sarco Cabernet fermentation.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Inoculating For Malolactic

Vinquiry delivered the numbers today from the Napa River Cabernet sample I took to them yesterday:

Alcohol13.77% (v/v)
Malic Acid1.22g/L
Volatile Acidity0.76g/L

As I suspected the alcoholic fermentation is complete and it is time to inoculate for malolactic. The pH is close enough to where I want it (about 0.05 units higher than I predicted) for the time being. I will evaluate the pH and the texture on the palate after ML to see if a small acid addition might be in order.

The alcohol is correct for the initial Brix value of the must. The V.A. is higher than I expected. Some folks would panic at this number, but I'm not concerned. There is no evidence of spontaneous lactobacillus infection, nor was there any sensory or visual evidence of spoilage in the fruit before fermentation. In decreasing order of probability, the number is 1) perhaps a lab artifact, 2) evidence of yeast stress from the rapid temperature increase I subjected it to, or maybe from the low inoculation rate, or 3) due to slight bacterial activity that occurred because I used a lower SO2 rate on the must.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Big Things And Small Things

Today at 12:15 the Pod was reading 1° Brix at 75° F after the punch. Despite this reading I believe the alcoholic fermentation has gone to completion, which I will confirm tomorrow with a sample for lab analysis.

At the end of the Rancho Sarco Cabernet ferment I was seeing very low Brix readings from the Pod. The higher readings I'm seeing now could be due to the sensor re-calibration, and also to the lower initial Brix of this must. Speculation, until I get the lab results.

While work on the must is slow I thought I might digress into a discussion of what is important in this kind of winemaking, versus what qualifies as minutiae, or distractions – big things and small things.

First I need to define what "this kind of winemaking" is – what is the objective to be achieved. The WinePod system (the Pod, the WineCoach software and knowledge base, the grapes, the consumables kits and options, and the online community) is designed to enable enthusiasts to produce high-quality dry red wines which can be bottled without filtration. Some things are more critical to realizing this goal than others.

The Big Things

The number one biggest thing is the grapes. The most important determinants of whether the outcome will meet expectations are: the choice of varietal, the quality of the vineyard and the fruit it produces in any vintage, and how that fruit is handled before fermentation. Provina has done a great job of sourcing superior fruit, and in handling it properly to arrive at the end user's doorstep in top condition. The user has the choice of varietal and vineyard. Beyond that the key to a good outcome is for the user to thaw the fruit quickly – with the buckets closed – and to get it into the Pod with SO2 as quickly as possible.
NOTE: Some WinePod users are going to want to make "organic" wines without the use of SO2. While it is possible to do so, (assuming a source of organic grapes, which Provina does not currently supply) I don't recommend it for a number of reasons. Foremost is the chance for spoilage organisms to ruin the wine, which SO2 use mitigates. But even absent spoilage it is my firmly held opinion, based on long consulting experience, that wines made without SO2 are simply not as palatable as wines made with. That said, I don't want to discourage potential users from experimenting. I do think that those who won't use SO2 should examine their reasons, and ask themselves if they might have other chemical sensitivities that could impact how they use the Pod.
After the grapes, the next most important big thing is the choice of oak. First, the choice of whether to use it at all. Second, the choice of using barrels or some substitute. And third, whether to use French, European or American oak. Each one of these choices strongly impacts how the wine will turn out, and poor choices here can result in very poor outcomes. My advice is to err on the side of caution – if a little is good then less is better, not more.

After the choice of oak, assuring a complete fermentation is the next most important big thing. A stuck ferment – either alcoholic or malolactic – will degrade the quality of the wine regardless of the quality of the fruit or the wisdom of the oak choice. The keys here are for the end user to clean the equipment thoroughly to minimize the chance for microbial contamination, to feed the yeast properly, and to make sure the fermentation does not get too hot.
NOTE: Again, there will be users who will choose to eschew the use of the selected yeasts, nutrients and bacteria included in the kit. This should be discouraged. While it is possible to produce a palatable wine by employing "native" yeast and bacteria in the microbially rich commercial winery setting, the uninoculated approach is far less likely to succeed outside this environment. The WinePod user has far fewer options than are available to the commercial winemaker for dealing with an incompletely fermented wine. An example is sterile filtration, common commercially but available to very few WinePod users.
The last big thing is the choice of whether or not to add tannin and specialty yeast extract to the must before fermentation. I debated including this in the big thing category, and finally decided that it is an important choice. In my experience if one were to make, say, five Cabernets each from a different vineyard, the resulting wines would smell and taste more alike if tannins and specialty extracts were used than if they weren't. The wines made with these products are likely to be more uniformly palatable than the wines made without, however. Whether or not to use them becomes a philosophical decision.

The Small Things

Basically, I believe that anything not directly related to the four big things above is a small thing. For example, the choice of which specific tannin and specialty yeast extract products to use is much less important than the choice of whether to use them or not.

The choice of which yeast or bacteria strain to use is of much less significance than how they are prepared and what rates are used, in order to assure complete fermentations.

What specific nutrients to use (Fermaid, Superfood, or yeast extract, yeast hulls and Cerevit) is less important than assuring that adequate nutrition is present to ensure a complete fermentation. The larger question is how much DAP to use in conjunction with one or more of these other foods.

The actual temperatures of fermentation and rates of change are not as important as simply making sure the ferment is not too hot or too cold. The same can be said for frequency and total number of punchdowns, which in my opinion are primarily done for temparature control – not too many and not too few.

What protocol is used to clean the Pod is less important than assuring that the user does clean it.

Given the capabilities of the WinePod press, the difference between light, medium and heavy pressing are likely be very small in most cases.

An exception to the big/small dichotomy might be whether or not to do extended maceration. From my own experience I would never recommend that Pinot Noir be extended past normal fermenting to dryness. On the other hand, I believe that Bordeaux varietals produced by extended maceration are generally more palatable than those that aren't. Other red varietals fall somewhere between these extremes. Vineyard location factors in – low-yield, small berry, highly tannic fruit will produce a more palatable wine from extended maceration regardless of varietal.

Another exception might be fining. In my opinion fining is always remedial. My objective in commercial production is never to have to fine a wine. The questions of whether or not to fine a particular wine, what to use, how much and when require the application of professional expertise and so are best avoided altogether. I see part of my role as identifying protocols and methods to use with Provina-sourced grapes that result in wines that don't require fining. But there are going to be WinePod wines that will benefit from a bit of remediation. Over-oaking and oxidation can be somewhat ameliorated with a combination of milk and egg whites. Excessive harsh tannins can be removed with egg white and/or gelatin. How to provide the professional expertise to assist the WinePod user base in making fining decisions is an open question at this time.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Fermentation Tailing Off

Yesterday at the 12:30 pm punch the Pod was reading 1° Brix at 77° F. I lowered the temperature control setpoints to 75° and 78° F, where they will stay through extended maceration.

Today at 1:45 pm the reading was 0° Brix at 74° F after the punch. The must is still gassy, the cap is very buoyant though not pushing the lid off the tank (has not been for the last three punchdowns), and there is a hint of late-fermentation sulfide in the aroma. Nothing to worry about.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

On The Downslope

This morning at the 9 am punch the must was 7° Brix at 85° F and had a very meaty smell – which is an indication of sulfide in my experience. I went ahead and added the last 10 g of DAP, bringing the total addition to 43 g or 1 g/L. I dropped the temperature control setpoints to 80° and 83° F.

At the evening (5:15 pm) punch the Pod was reading 4° Brix at 82° F. I further dropped the setpoints to 78° and 81° F. The smell was back to delicious.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Forcing An Early Peak

In yesterday's post I mentioned that the cap was up. I did not mention that the must was reading 24° Brix. At this morning's 10 am punchdown the cap was up about an inch over the top lip of the Pod, and the must was reading 17° Brix at 80° F. I believe some of this cap rise is due to the skins not breaking down as they did in the Rancho Sarco ferment – I chalk this up to leaving the enzyme out of this trial.

I added 22 g of DAP (0.50 g/L), 19 g of liquid yeast extract (0.45 g/L) and a tiny pinch of the vitamin formulation Cerevit. I added the latter two because I have no Fermaid K available in the winery. Fermaid is a formulation composed of yeast extract, DAP and vitamins – though I am committed to no extemporizing in this ferment I think I am still within bounds.

At the 3 pm punchdown I added 4 grams of potassium carbonate. The must was reading 14° Brix at 80° F after the punch.

At the 8:30 pm punchdown (number seven out of a planned 18) the must was reading 12° Brix at 80° F. I raised the setpoints to 85° and 88° F.

At the first punch tomorrow I will assess the ferment and decide whether or not to add the last 10 grams of DAP. The fermentation smells really great at this point – if it smell as good tomorrow I will skip the addition. Also, if the ferment has passed below 8° Brix (which is likely) that will also weigh against making the last add.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Additions & Inoculation

Yesterday morning I raised the Pod temperature setpoints to 70° and 73° F and added 12.9 grams each of Booster Rouge and OptiRed to the must (30 g/hL).

In the afternoon I prepped 8 grams of the Uvaferm 43 yeast in 104° F water plus 12.9 grams of Go-Ferm. Last ferment I over-inoculated; this time I under-inoculated: 8 g/43 L is 18.6 g/hL, and the recommended inoculation rate for these specialty yeasts is 25 g/hL. For the WinePod the yeast should be packaged in 11 gram sachets.

Twenty minutes after starting the yeast rehydration I added about a gram of sucrose to the inoculum to proof it, and then punched it into the must after I saw good foaming. After punching in the inoculum I raised the setpoints again, to 75° and 78° F.

Today the cap was up. I punched in 17 g tartaric acid (0.4 g/L) and 11 g DAP (0.25 g/L) and raised the setpoints again to 80° and 83° F. I am determined to get this ferment off to a quick start to make up for the under-inoculation.

I received juice analysis results back from the lab today:

Assimilable Nitrogen95mg/L
Disssolved Solids23.3°Brix
Titratable Acidity3.34g/L
Malic Acid1.16g/L
Buffer Capacity31.2mmol/pH unit

The available nitrogen is quite low – I will add the full allowable gram per liter of DAP to make up for it. The buffer capacity is something new for us. I'm waiting on the potassium analysis from the lab, in order to use this number along with the other juice parameters in a calculation of the correct acid addition to achieve a target pH. More on this tomorrow.

Regardless of what the calculation shows, based on my experience with the Rancho Sarco fruit in the last ferment it is my intention to add 4 grams of potassium carbonate to follow up on the acid addition I made today.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Racked & Sulfured the 07 Rancho Sarco Cab

Today I racked the partial 7 gallon carboy to fill a 5 gallon carboy and a 375 mL bottle. I added 5 grams of Efferbaktol granules, split equally between the 20 L barrel and the 5 gallon (= 18.9 L) carboy – this is about a 50 ppm addition of SO2. I added approximately 200 ppm SO2 to the 375 mL bottle, which I will use for barrel topping wine during aging. The barrel I fitted with a solid bung, the carboy with a fermentation lock.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Second Trial: 2007 Napa River Ranch Cab

As I mentioned in Friday's post, I received three frozen pails of the 2007 Napa River Ranch fruit that morning. Yesterday, Provina founder Greg Snell came to Sonoma to install an upgraded logic board in the WinePod and bring me new software. We also made a fresh calibration on the Brix sensor.

It is my intention with this ferment to follow fairly closely the protocol I used to make the Rancho Sarco wine, in order to compare the potential of the two vineyards. It is also my goal with this trial to make no extemporaneous changes to the protocol that is available to potential WinePod users – I will be using only consumables from the kit, and testing the Wine Coach software. However, I will not be following the exact protocol suggested by the software – instead I will be validating the model and recommending changes and options.

Today I opened the pails of the Napa River Ranch fruit. Again, as with the Rancho Sarco fruit, there was no sensory evidence of yeast or bacterial fermentation, and no aroma of ethyl acetate or other oxidation flaw. The fruit looked sound, and there was no evidence of mold. Comparatively, the berry size of the NRR fruit was noticibly larger than that of the Rancho Sarco.

This time I added just 5 grams of Efferbaktol rather than the 10 grams I added to the last ferment. I dissolved the contents of the packet in 150 mL of warm water and poured 50 mL on top of the fruit in each pail. Then I transferred the contents of all three pails to the Pod. I used a liter of drinking water to rinse the three pails and transferred this rinse (with skins) to the Pod. Five grams of Efferbaktol provides the equivalent of 2 grams SO2, which calculates to a 46 ppm addition.

The Pod's temperature reading on the fruit was 54° F, the same as the ambient in the winery.

I suspended the 10 grams of VR Supra tannin (provided in the consumables kit) in 150 mL of warm water and added this to the fruit in the Pod. I followed this with the first punchdown to mix the must. VR Supra is a quebracho extract similar to the Vitanil AJ-11 from my commercial stash used on the last ferment. The 10 gram addition represents a rate of 25 g/hL (the recommended rate is 10-40 g/hL) compared to the total tannin addition of 15 g/hL in the Rancho Sarco ferment.

Note that this larger tannin addition may result in a slightly softer wine this time than what I achieved in the last ferment. This seems counterintuitive, but the extra tannin can combine with harsh and bitter seed tannins and render them softer.

The Pod was reading 25° Brix after the punch. I enabled automatic temperature control with the setpoints at 60° and 63° F.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Summary Of The 07 Rancho Sarco Cab Ferment

Today I racked the 2007 Rancho Sarco Cabernet out of the WinePod and into the 20L Vernou barrel and a 7-gallon carboy, marking the completion of the active winemaking phase of this lot.

When I drained the barrel this morning the water was again medium-brown. The smell of the wood in the barrel was markedly less than after the first soak. It is my hope that after making four hot water extractions of this wood, the amount of "oak" the barrel will impart to the wine will be moderated to some degree.

I used the 7-gallon carboy to receive the balance of the wine in the Pod, expecting that the volume might be a little greater than 5 gallons (my other carboy option). After I confirm that the malolactic ferment is complete I will add SO2 (as Efferbaktol) to the barrel and the carboy, settle the wine in the carboy and rack it to fill a 5-gallon vessel. Any remainder I will put into screw-cap bottles with extra SO2 to use as topping wine.

I ran a sample to the lab for a quick check on malic level and pH:

Malic Acid0.18g/L

The earlier carbonate addition raised the pH to nearly exactly where I had hoped – recall that pH 3.6 was my target. The malic level is below my personal "done" threshold of 0.20 g/L but I think I will wait a bit longer before I add SO2 to the wine.

Fermentation Summary

I essayed this ferment to test the current pre-production version of the WinePod, and to prove the quality of the Rancho Sarco Cabernet fruit. I feel I had a postive result on each count: the current version of the Pod is very much "ready for prime time" in my opinion, and the Rancho Sarco Cabernet can be made into a really outstanding wine in the Pod.

For the most part, how I conducted this ferment could be duplicated by anyone who owns a Pod. The few exceptions I included (using enzyme, some tannins not currently included in the consumable kit, and liquid yeast extract) should have made – at most – a minor difference to the outcome.

I was able to demonstrate how to use the Pod controls to mimic the temperature profile of a commercial ferment, and also to emulate the operation of a commercial vertical basket press. I would expect these functions to be automated options in future iterations of the WinePod firmware and software.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, should I ferment another lot of the 2007 Rancho Sarco Cab I would add 0.2 g/L of tartaric acid before the ferment rather than the 0.5 g/L that I added this go-around. In the future I may experiment with larger additions of tartaric and then of potassium carbonate, in sequence, to increase the buffer capacity of the juice expressed from previously-frozen fruit.

In a future ferment of this fruit I would also bump the total addition of nitrogen (as DAP) to at least 75 g/hL, and perhaps as much as the maximum allowable addition of 100 g/hL. These values represent actual DAP additions of 30-32 grams and 40-43 grams, respectively.

The resulting wine is something I would be proud to bottle commercially. The color is deep and of the proper hue. The aromas are rich and correct for the varietal and the location of the vineyard. The texture on the palate has wonderful grip and balance, and the finish and aftertaste are long and pleasant. The result here is perhaps better than I have ever achieved before in a small-scale red wine fermentation trial.

I would hope that someone with no prior winemaking experience could follow the protocol I have outlined here and obtain a similar result. That said I refuse to accept any personal liability for someone else's failure to make a wine of the same quality. As I have told my professional consulting clients over the years, there are tens of thousands of wrong ways to make wine, but maybe many hundreds of right ways.

I honestly don't know how much of what I achieved was a consequence of my own level of experience keeping me from making mistakes, or keeping the consequences of my mistakes to a minimum. But I am sure I have not even scratched the surface of possible failure modes.

But the bottom line is - with the WinePod and good grapes I believe that anyone COULD be a rockstar.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

More Barrel Preparation

Yesterday morning I drained the barrel from the first hot water fill, which I had left overnight. There was no apparent leakage from the barrel, confirming that the wood is fresh and the quality of construction is high. Also, the smell of the new wood is really outstanding – in my opinion Tonellerie Vernou has used first-quality wood to make these small barrels.

The water I drained form the barrel was very dark – almost black – suggesting that this first soak effectively removed a lot of easily extractable tannin and "oak" character.

I put about 1.5 pounds of kosher salt in the barrel and refilled it with 150° F water for the second soak. The salt treatment tightens the grain and is very effective at killing any undesirable organisms that may be present (although there is little chance any are, my personal proclivity is to be proactively cautious).

This salt water soak lasted eight hours. I drained the barrel again – this time the water was pale brown, like weak tea – and refilled it with hot water for overnight.

When I drained the barrel this morning the water was a medium-brown. I filled it for a fourth and final soak.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Barrel Prep & More Fruit!

Today I started to prep the small (20 liter) Vernou French oak barrel to rack the 2007 Rancho Sarco Cabernet into it. A standard-sized wine barrel is 228 liters. The small barrel has 2x to 2.5x more surface to volume than the standard barrel. Extraction is not a linear process, and so wine in the small barrel should extract oak at a rate that is some fraction of e2 to e2.5 faster than in the standard barrel.

Whatever the exact rate difference, compared to a standard 228L barrel the small 20L barrel can quickly over-oak a wine – well before the benefits of the slow and gentle oxidation the barrel environment imparts to the wine are realized. For this reason it is important to treat a new small barrel a little more harshly than I would do a standard barrel.

My ordinary new barrel soak-up regime for standard barrels is to give them a 3 minute wash with warm water through a high-pressure cleaning robot, followed by a 45 second rinse with ozone-saturated water, and then to let them sit bung in and upright overnight. With well-made barrels this is enough to ensure they are wine-tight 99% of the time or more.

With this small barrel I went quite a bit farther. After a quick rinse I filled the barrel with hot (150° F) water and let it sit overnight. I plan to drain it tomorrow and refill it at least twice more before moving wine into it.

Today I also received three pails of 2007 Napa River Ranch Cabernet for the next WinePod ferment.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Addition, Temperature Check

Today I added the potassium carbonate I mentioned in yesterday's post – 4 grams or approximately 0.1 g/L. If I were to do this ferment again I would not make the 0.5 g/L tartaric acid addition before the ferment. Instead I would prefer to add 0.2 g/L or 8 grams total.

I also checked the temperature of the wine in the Pod. Before and after stirring I measured the wine temperature at 71.5° F, or within one degree of the thermistor reading on the front panel. It feels warmer than that because the ambient in the winery is at least 15° F lower.

I expect to receive another fruit shipment tomorrow – Hall Napa River Ranch Cabernet this time – for a new ferment to start Monday. Over the weekend I will move the Rancho Sarco Cabernet out of the WinePod and into a small new French oak barrel (specially crafted for the Wine Pod by the respected Tonellerie Vernou) and a carboy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Today I lowered the temperature setpoints for the WinePod to 70° and 72° F. I am a little concerned that the wine seems to be warmer than the temperature reading – tomorrow I will stick a precision thermometer in it, and/or use a handheld precision IRT to check the surface temperature.

I took a sample of the wine to Vinquiry today for a malic assay. It came back 0.23 g/L, which is nearly done.

The wine tastes a bit tart and I am not completely happy with the low pH (at 3.5) so I also plan to add about 0.1 g/L potassium carbonate. This will increase the buffer strength of the wine, raise the pH – I'm predicting to near 3.6 – and round out the mouthfeel.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hassle-Free Pressing

When I went in to check the Pod today the cap was finally down:
I started to press at 3 pm (total of 25 days maceration). The press assembled easily: and I set it to "heavy" pressing. Once the automatic cycle reached its end, I switched to manual mode to continue pushing on the cake at the highest pressure. The way a press cake sets up, once the final pressure is first attained the cake expresses some juice, and the internal pressure decreases. We bring the pressure up to the setpoint again, the cake expresses some more juice, and the pressure decreases again, but just a little less than the time before. This cycle is repeated until there is no pressure drop between cycles. At the start of this process, the time between cycles could be as short as a minute. During the cycling this interval should gradually increase; my personal point of diminishing returns is ten minutes between the last two cycles. This is the program I approximated manually, though I did not time the intervals exactly nor count them rigorously (there were about 20).

I siphoned the wine out of the Pod through a colander and into buckets:
I tilted the Pod and scooped out another half-gallon. Then I set the press control to back out. I turned my back to do some cleanup and when I looked back at the Pod the inner tank was being lifted out of the outer shell. I should have held the tank down during this initial press reversal. I found that the tank needs to be held down again when the press plate catches the lifting dogs on the cake basket. After the motor had pulled the press cake loose from the bottom of the tank liner I removed the top bolt and lifted the cake out manually.

The cake was acceptably dense and dry:
I was not able to push the tank liner back into the shell completely by myself - this appers to be a 2-person job. After cleaning out the inside of the Pod I returned the wine and measured the volume to be 10.9 gallons (I calculated about 0.69 gallons per inch). I put the lid on and set the temperature contol points to 72° and 75° F.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Not Quite Ready To Press Today

I have made two punchdowns on the 2007 Rancho Sarco Cabernet since my last post on this ferment. I had predicted that I would press this lot today, but I may put it off a day or two, for a couple of reasons.

One, while the aromas and flavors are coming together as I had hoped for the extended maceration, what I am waiting for is an evening-out of the color differences between the seeds and skins. The positive effects of extended maceration are at their peak once an equilibrium is reached between the wine, seeds and skins. In my experience there is a change in the appearance of the must where the seeds look less dark and brown, and more red like the skins, which signals this equilibrium.

Two, malolactic fermentation is not yet complete. It would be unusual for the malo to have finished in five days (I inoculated Monday and it is Saturday) but not unhead-of. However a sample taken to the lab yesterday showed with 0.56 g/L malic. I'm not necessarily going to wait until the malic level goes to "none detected" before I press, but I would like the secondary ferment to be closer to completion before I expose the wine to the low ambient temperature of the winery.

If the color change is complete and malolactic is not I will press, clean up, and return the wine to the Pod to hold it at 70° F until malo is done and I have added sulfur dioxide.