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A little catch up with Noir

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared anything here at EarthLUFF, my young, little, Dirt & Wine blog.  I left my corporate job, we got married, spent two weeks in Thailand, and hosted Thanksgiving. That’s the bigger stuff anyway.

Somewhere in between there, we also kicked off 2 wine kits, a red and a white. I also noticed that I didn’t log the Pinot Grigio we made in April. I didn’t take a lot of pictures of either of these 3 wine kits but decided to update the Wine Log.

We only have about a case of the New Year Noir left, which is about half. We’re getting better at aging wine! Kind of. I decided to open a bottle of the New Year Noir to celebrate and to see how it has changed.

december tasting

Recap: We bottled this World Vineyard Vintners Reserve, Pinot Noir, on 1/2/15, making it a month shy of 12 months aged. It has changed a lot.

I put this Noir at the Light and Fruity side, while my husband puts this on the Light and Earthy side of tastes. I think it still has that steel smell to it with a definite hint of berry. It has a light fruit taste, with some light spice that I can’t put my tongue on, and some mineral but not a lot of tannin.

It’s alright! It’s not my favorite but I also am beginning to think I am not a big Pinot Noir fan. I’m hoping we can age this one another year and just let it keep doing it’s thing.

More to come as I catch up! Cheers.


Batch #5: Sprung again

Spring has sprung and we just bottled our first white for the year. A Sauvignon Blanc from World Vineyard. We’re getting better at keeping something in the fermenter and learning we need to start stock-piling so we can let these babies age at least half a year. This particular batch is going to be hard to stock-pile.

We started the primary fermentation on 2/7, our birthday week. Before pitching the yeast, we had a gravity reading of 1.088. On the 16th, about 10 days later, we had a gravity reading of .996, giving us a light ABV of 12.08%, and went ahead and transferred into the secondary fermentation.

batch 5 first readingTen more days later, on the 26th, we had a gravity reading of .99 and followed the instructions to stabilize and clear. This still puts the ABV between 12 and 13%. I probably didn’t de-gas as much as I should have but did what we could with the drill and whip. It was pretty cloudy as we slid it back into the “wine cellar”.
secondary fermentationThree weeks later, we bottled, on 3/19 – the day before the official day of spring! Per the instructions, it should have been after two weeks. However, life happens. Anyway, what is exciting is how drinkable this is at bottling.
crystal clear bottlingMy attempt at aroma and tasting notes at bottling: There some sort of mineral or steel smell and definitely some fruit. However, for tasting, there is nothing too sweet here but a very light dry with a light floral finish. It is very crisp. Amazing.

This is going to be an exciting one to wait for! We have another white to start this week, the Pinot we did our first time around. It’s going to be a great year for wine making in this house!



Batch #4: Bottling the New Year Noir

Bottling day is always exciting. We actually bottled this batch earlier this month on the 2nd. When you bottle, you of course sample! This is only the 2nd red wine kit we’ve done and the first didn’t turn out… but this one did! We got about 27 bottles.

There is nothing spectacular, at first taste, if you will. However, more experienced wine maker’s and the many, many reviews promise this wine gets better with age. All wine does! Well, most. Anyway, reports of tasting notes every month or so to come.

I found this great community of home wine maker’s via the Winemaker’s Academy, as well as a reference to some wine labels that are not a pain to remove. A big thank you to Matt for the reference and discount!

We named this batch, New Year Noir, as we bottled after the new year. We obviously have cats because this is what made the “front page”, if you will.

New Year Noir

A perfectly good, New Year Noooooiir, get it? Roar? It’s okay, you don’t have to.


I didn’t get the alignment correct the first two times and the label peeled off and back on so easily. The picture shown is not the best but the size of the label is great, as well. I’m in LOVE with these GROG TAG labels. I don’t think I will ever spend the time scrubbing labels again. Let’s be real, it’s just not fun. I also purchased some of the “write on” labels, will test those out soon enough.

We have two kits of white wine awaiting their fermenting tub – cheers to more wine making!

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Batch #4: Stabilizing and clearing

Finally, last step before bottling! Time to stabilize (kill the yeast) and scoot the wine along to clearing.

When I pulled the carboy out of the closet, I noticed a lot of moisture. The wine did not continue to ferment, as it was noted that it could or could not. I’m not sure if this is an issue but taking note of it anyway in my Winemaker’s Log. batch4moistureAs always, we start by checking the gravity reading. I consistently hit this 0.990 mark as shown below and needed to be less than 0.996. As this stage, we can take a stab at the alcohol content.

The initial reading when we started the fermenting process was 1.084, less the 0.990 we just got, and multiply by 131… we’re looking at roughly 12.31% alcohol content. Not bad!

I dissolved the package of metabisulphite and sorbate in 1/2 cup of cool, distilled water, and then added it to the must. Then, time to whip the hell out of the wine. The purpose of this step is to release any and all gas out of the wine. Trapped gas can lead to foul tasting and smelling wine, as well as tasting bubbly when it is not intended to.

I used the degassing whip attached to a drill, whipping for 2 minutes, then stirring with the spoon to make sure I’m stirring up the bottom, and then back to the drill. I must of done this 4-6 times. I was still getting a lot of fizz.

batch4degassingI remembered we had a specific bung to attach to the whip and insert into the carboy, creating a sort of vacuum. I put that sucker on and regretted it. The damn drill shredded pieces of the bung INTO THE MUST.

batch4bungI was able to get a lot of it out using the spoon. It’s a pain because that opening is not much to try and scrap the top of the must. After researching the internet, I learned the wine IS NOT ruined. I may or may not rack it again before bottling, carefully siphoning around the plastic pieces.

It’s very hard to post and share such a stupid lesson learned! But I learned. I assure you it will still be drinkable. It’s food grade plastic anyway. Besides, if you don’t want it, that means more for me!

We have another 14 days before it’s time to bottle, which reminds me… time to order another kit!

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Batch#4: Secondary Fermentation

It’s time for Step #2 for this Pinot Noir wine kit. As always, the first step is to test the gravity reading. Ideal reading per the directions was to get between 1.010 or less. We got 0.996 – win. Next, rack the wine.

This step is simply racking the wine to the glass carboy, leaving as much of the sediment behind as possible. Using the fancy siphon hose, it was really just a waiting game to transfer the must.

batch4step2We may or may not see any further fermentation. Now we wait for another 10 days!


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Batch #4: Let the fermentation begin!

It’s red wine season, a great time of year. A glass of whatever red is always so pleasant with a crisp chill in the air. It’s a perfect time to start a new batch of Pinor Noir!

I had this kit laying around for a month already, just waiting to kicked off. The kits and instructions make things pretty easy, labeling packets to coordinate with the directions. Here is the box of juice and other potions that make the magic.

vinters pinot noirFirst thing is first, cleaning and sanitation. I ordered Star San this go around, which had great reviews and will last for many batches. For the first step, the primary fermenter (plastic bucket), spoon, wine theif, hydrometer, and test tube were cleaned and sanitized.

sanitizedNext, a half gallon of warm water and bentonite were mixed together. Bentonite is a fining agent and at this stage is used to speed up the fermentation process. Then the wonderful bag of grape juice.

benoite and juiceWe topped off the primary fermenter with distilled water to make it a full 6 gallons. After a lot of stirring, we took a sample to get the gravity reading. The instructions stated I wanted it to be between 1.080 and 1.097.

We got a solid 1.084, despite the horrible picture, but first steps going well. We will test the gravity again and again, to check on the fermentation process. As the yeast eats the sugar, the hydrometer will sink lower.

We moved the fermenter into the wine cellar, ahem, coat closet, and pitched the yeast. Topped it with the air bung and called it a night.

test add yeast let sitIn about 5-7 days, we will check the gravity reading and then rack it to the secondary fermenter.

More to come!


Moonflower & Bottling

The moonflower that I have growing up the pergola bloomed this week!

He started opening up right at sunset. Yes, my plants are typically male. I don’t know why, they just are. Anyway, I thought I read somewhere they can open up in under two minutes. Not so much for this guy, he took his time.

First Moon Flower

I noticed a few lady bugs over the vine, always a good sign. We tried to capture the different phases as it slowly opened but was somewhat difficult to do with just the string of lights. Of course, I had to create a GIF. Why not?

Moon Flower GIF

On top of trying to capture and enjoy the first moon flower bloomed, I was busy trying to get this batch of cab bottled. It took about 30 minutes to sanitize all the bottles and the tools needed to siphon the wine out into the bottles.

Once started though, we got 29 bottles filled under an hour. We’re getting better! I’m also impressed we got this much out of the batch, considering the racking and filtering dilemmas we went through.

cab bottled

Now, all we have to do is wait a year and let these babies do their thing! On to the next batch… and staring at moonflowers…

moonflower patio