I checked in on my must, and was delighted to hear some faint bubbling under the cap. Success, the yeast are getting to work! I punched down the cap, a ritual I will be doing 4–5 times per day until the fermentation is complete. I want to make sure the yeast have enough air to do their job, and extract all that lovely color and flavor from the skins! The must is at about 65°F, and will increase in temperature as the fermentation continues.
Even more gurgling activity, and quite a few bubbles coming up as I punch the cap down. The must has warmed up a little to about 68°F.
Today I added 4g Fermaid K (yeast nutrient) to make sure the yeast have all the nutrients need and to keep the fermentation humming along nicely.
More punching down, and yet more activity going on in the must. Temperature is now at about 70°F. I checked in on the sugar, which was at about 18 Brix.
I added one last small dose of yeast nutrient to the must. Temperature is 75°F and Brix is at 14. The conversion of sugar to alcohol is obvious from the smell of the must and the juice feels markedly less sticky.
The fermentation has been humming along nicely and the sugar dropping day-by-day. The temperature has held steady at about 75°F. It never got very warm, which I am okay with. I think with the cold soak, and what is shaping up to be a 9-day primary fermentation, I should get plenty of flavor and color extraction while preserving the fruity character of the grapes.
The sugar level is in the low single digits now, so I made arrangements to rent a wine press on day 14. In the meantime I’m cleaning my ferm locks, stoppers, tubes and carboys in preparation for pressing the wine.
I’m also kicking off the “secondary” or Malolactic fermentation by adding a malolactic bacteria culture to my must.
The timing of this move is debatable. Some winemakers suggest doing this early in the primary fermentation where there are plenty of nutrients and elbow room still left by the yeast to ensure the bacteria get a good start. Others hold off until the primary fermentation is complete and there isn’t any sugar for the bacteria to potentially feast on and make undesirable by-product flavors in the wine. I opted to start my malolactic conversion at the tail-end of the fermentation, when most of the sugar is gone, but the must is comfortably warm for the bacteria.