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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 #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: 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!

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Batch #3, the long lost cab

This is a back-post, if this platform will allow it, as I hadn’t started this blog when we did this wine kit. However, this is how I’m retracing our steps to figure out what happened to this batch and mostly to share lessons learned!

Batch #3 – Cellar Craft Showcase, Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine Kit

This was a more advance kit for us, at the time, as we really had only taken one other kit through the entire process ourselves. We somewhat skeptical of how it turned out when we bottled, as something didn’t taste or smell right.

We let it age for a few months, opened a bottled and realized something was terribly wrong. More to come on this.

Step 1, Primary Fermentation with bentonite, juice, crushed grape pack in mesh bag – 6/1/14

IMG_4910I have notes that we stirred 6/3, 6/5 to ensure grape bag was submerged

This is the only picture I could find from this step, the level of the juice looks low even though I know we added water. I’m just not sure if this picture was before or after adding the water and then the grape pack, which would of added to the level.

I remember we add most of the grape pack in the mesh but also put some directly into the must.

Step 2, Secondary Fermentation with enzyme pouch – 6/12/14

IMG_5024SG reading was 1.00 before completing this step. I remember making a disaster of a mess transferring the wine, as I forced the siphon and wine exploded everywhere. I don’t think I’ll ever add crushed grapes directly into the must again, without a better method for siphoning and racking.

As shown in the picture, we added quite a bit of water (3500 ML). The must was still fermenting on 6/20 through 6/22 so we left it alone for a week, per instructions.

Step 3, Clearing with metabisulphite, sorbate, kieselsol (two separate pouches), chitosan

I don’t have any pictures of this step. Notes include a SG reading was .99 before completing steps and that we added the wood cubes.

Step 4, Filtering – 7/29/14

We bought a filteration system and filtered with #1 pad, then #2 pad. We learned a lot during this process, as it was our first time figuring this machinery out. However, we thought everything went as well as it could for this step.

We also still managed to lose some wine as shown in the next picture.

IMG_5212If my memory serves me correct, we did not top of the carboy at this point, and we let the wine sit for another week with a solid bung before actually bottling.

This might have been a critical misstep in our process, as it may have gone through oxidation in that short week. I’m  not sure.

Step 5 – Bottling – 8/5/14
Bottling went as well as it should. As I noted at the top of this, we were skeptical about the taste and smell but was hoping it was bottle shock.

We also corked with recommended premium corks.


First post about wine making!

As stated in the About, I am a novice wine maker, this being the 2nd batch done at home. Our very first batch was at Water 2 Wine, a couple of years ago, which was a lot of fun. I fell in love with that Chilean Pinot Noir. However, they take care of so much of the work! I will have to back-post on the real first batch we did at home, which turned out fantastic.

Back to the present. Let me introduce this kit:

This week, we are close to bottle the batch of Cab. The kit is pretty advance and has taught us a lot. It came with grape skins, along with the juice, and oak chips. I had some issues racking to the secondary fermenter with the grape skins… I forced the siphon out of frustration and ended up exploding red wine all over our kitchen nook. Lesson learned. It was a mess.

In order to prepare for bottling, the instructions highly recommended filtering. We took the plunge and ordered a Buon Vino Mini Jet filtration system and waited for it to be delivered. It is awesome. Pretty simple and easy to use.

cab filteringWe filtered the wine from the glass carboy to the primary carboy with the #1 pads. Then, filtered the wine back into the glass carboy using the #2 pads.

When we racked the wine, we ran into this same problem, not getting a full 6 gallons into the carboy:

Cab filtered

This is due to making the choice to put half of the grape skins directly into the must and half bundled in a cheese cloth, into the must. The option was in the instructions, so we chose both.

I do not recommend putting the grape skins directly into the fermenter without the cloth, unless you are more experienced with this method. It left a lot of sediment at the bottom of the carboy. I’m not sure if that much sediment would still occur if bagged.

For me, like I said, it resulted in a disaster of a mess when racking with a siphon and not filtering. And again, even with the filtering system, it seems we lost some wine. I’m crossing my fingers that the wine is not in danger until we bottle. Can you believe I didn’t have similar-wine on hand to add to it? Yea, unbelievable.

The kit suggests to let it sit for a couple days before bottling, as the wine is agitated. I am hoping all goes well and get to bottle this weekend!

Of course, we had to sample some. My comments were a short burst of some kind of berry, followed by a smooth, dry finish. I’m not good at explaining the notes. I’ll work on that.

This wine is recommended to age at 1 year and even better up to 4 years. How is one supposed to wait that long?! Time to get another kit going…

I’m thinking we can name this something around, Anniversary, as this kit was a gift to celebrate our second anniversary ❤