Our fermentation has been kicking and it looks like it is about a day ahead at this point. We have been running warm since the get go (but within limits) and our brix took a solid turn down to 14 degrees. We have been punching down consistently and have added nutrients to keep the yeast gobbling away at the sugar and to keep fermentation on track. We raised the temp limits to 85F-90F as instructed for brix levels between 5 and 15. Our tastes indicate that we were moving along nicely. No off odors as best as we can tell and we are starting to notice the smell of alcohol. Acidity seems to be where we wanted it and overall color is looking good. We are still concerned that we will end up with a wine that is carrying a little more alcohol than we wanted, but we will just have to wait and see.
A day later and we are over 88 degrees and down to 9 brix. As a side note, we have been vigilant about pulling out any MOG (material other than grapes; stems, leaves, etc.) that are readily apparent to us as we punch down the cap. We pulled a sample. The color is considerably deeper (looks like a Cab!) and the alcohol smell is more apparent. Otherwise, the nose is a little tight right now. The wine still tastes sweet but good and the acidity is more noticeable.
When I did a punchdown this morning, the cap was not as high as it had been during previous punchdowns. The temperature was also up around 89 and the brix was at 5 degrees. I had remembered reading that when the brix was below 5 degrees it was time to lower the Temp setpoints. However, what to do at 5 brix? Made a quick call to Taylor to get his take and we decided to lower the set points to 75 and 80 versus all the way down to 72 and 75. We were going to be away all day at a wine tasting (yes, I know!!) so we were afraid to leave the temp where it was in case the brix was to fall under 5 degrees while we were out. We returned this evening to a Temp of 81 and 0 brix. We performed a punchdown and then reset the Temp to 72 to 75 degrees. After that the brix was reading from 3 to, currently 1. It looks like tomorrow we will test for residual sugar and see where we are at.
We are now at 75 degrees and -2 brix (officially alcohol!) so it is time to do a residual sugar test to see if the brix measurement on the Winepod is accurate. Off to another wine tasting, so will report on that later.