Smart Dog WineryTM

a smart dog can sniff out a good wine

2021 Livermore Valley Merlot

For 2021 I again chose to go the frozen must route, and as has been my general practice, since last year was a white, this year is a red.   Also decided to go with a different type, Merlot.

While many seem to prefer Napa and Sonoma for wines.  I find that for reds either Lodi or Livermore are better (especially as I am not a Cabernet Sauvignon fan) . 

10 years ago the choice was buy fresh grapes, buy a kit, or buy frozen grapes/juice from Brehm.  I like Brehm and have made some very good wines using frozen grapes/juice from them, but Brehm is either Napa/Sonoma or Columbia Valley Oregon.   Today there is more choice. Since I was particularly interested in Livermore grapes, and not interested in picking grapes, I went with

13 December 2021

On Wednesday 8 December 2021 I placed the order for (4) pails of frozen Merlot grapes, and one (1) pail of frozen Merlot Rose.  They were delivered on  Monday 13 December.

Merlot Deliverd

 They were still frozen.  After moving them into my wine making area.I allowed them to defrost.

15 December 2021

Wednesday (15 Dec) I opened, stirred and removed some leaves and twigs. They where not fully defrosted. Grapes generally look good, minimal leaves and twigs. They appeared to be at the volumes they were supposed to be, but expected some shrinkage as they defrosted (water taking up more volume frozen then defrosted).

2021 Merlot Grapes

The Rose had a lump of ice.

2021 Merlot Rose with ice

16 December 2021

The grapes and juice were pretty well defrosted, so I stirred them with my punch down tool (after sanitizing it).  Took initial readings.

1 2 3 4 R
Temp 64 62
SG 1.100 1.100 1.100 1.100 1.100
Brix 25 25 25 25 25
pH 3.5 3.5 3.4 3.4 3.4

These were what the Grapes for Wine quoted, so felt pretty satisfied at this point.  Also should note that every time I punched down/stirred I would check for leaves and twigs and remove any I found.

Since MoreWine is the closest supply store I bought the additives and yeast from them.

From past practice I have found that I get good results using the MoreWine BF990 - Additive Pack for Brehm Frozen Fruit — Reds.  This includes:

• TAN220 — Tannin FT Rouge (10g)
• AD342 — Go-Ferm (10 g)
• AD345 — Fermaid K (8 g)
• AD351 — Lallzyme EX (0.8 g)
• AD355 — Opti-Red - (8 g)

At 11:30 I Added first enzyms - 1 pack to each (AD351 — Lallzyme EX (0.8 g) and AD355 — Opti-Red - (8 g)). At 16:15 I added ~ 3gms Potassium Metabisulfite to each. And then at 17:30 I added TAN220 — Tannin FT Rouge (10g) to each (including the rose).

Allowed to sit overnight.

17 December 2021

In the morning I again punched down/stirred and then pitched the yeast. 

Prepared 5 sets of 100ml hot water and 1 each AD342 — Go-Ferm (10 g). Then added 1 packet of yeast to each container. To two used DYW62 — Dry Wine Yeast - Bordeaux - (8g) and to the other two and the rose used DYW70 — Dry Wine Yeast - Syrah - (8g).

19 December 2021

Been punching down twice a day, morning and night.

First readings

1 2 3 4 R
SG 1.098 1.098 1.094 1.094 1.1
pH 3.6 3.6 3.8 3.4 3.4
added •  AD345 — Fermaid K (8 g) to each and punched down again

1 January 2022 (Day 16)

After 15 days, punching down twice a day the readings were

58oF 1 2 3 4 R
SG 1.002 1.001 1.021 1.015 1.001
pH 3.7 3.7 3.4 3.5 3.6

Cool fermentation temperature is what is taking the time.  But I am getting great maceration on the grapes.

4 & 5 January 2022 (Days 18 & 19)

On the 4th pressed pails 1 & 2, had highest solids.  On the 5th pressed pails 3 & 4.  Transferred each to a clean 5 gallon carboy and transferred the Rose to a clean 5 gallon carboy.  Added 30g of bentonite to each for preliminary settling.

Approximately 3+ gallons for each merlot and 4+ gallons of Rose.

7 January 2022 (Day 21)

Settling has gone well and readings indicate close to done with primary fermentation.

1 2 3 4 R
SG 0.995 0.995 1.002 1.000 0.998
pH 4.1 4.1 3.5 3.5 3.6

8 January 2022

Time to rack for clearing and aging.  Also decided to start blending.  Racked pails 1 & 3 to clean 6 gallon carboy, and 2 & 4 to another clean 6 gallon carboy.  Racked most of the rose to a 3 gallon carboy and the rest as top off for the regular merlot.

2021 Merlot in carboys.

The bentonite seems to have done a good job, there was a fair amount of sediment in each carboy, even the rose.

On to aging.



MIke Albrecht, P.E.

Or my excursion into winemaking

If you have any questions or would like more information please contact me at::