Hey folks I intend on brewing a high end cellarcraft red mountain cabernet kit. I am a beer brewer and have a 6.5 gallon carboy on hand. Will that work for aging the $150 wine kits? Or is a 6 gal carboy a must?
6.5 gallon is fine. No worries.
Something to keep in mind is that kit wines are designed for bottle aging. There is no need to bulk age them for great lengths of time - though a lot of people do, and there is nothing wrong with that.
I usually take about 3-4 months before I bottle mine. I don’t top up my carboys in that time so there is head space in the carboy. Unless you open and close the airlock regularily there is little chance of oxidation in that time frame.
If you do intend to bulk age for longer (6 months to 1 year) I might considder topping up to some degree. But this is why I prefer bottle aging anyway.
And I should add that more head space is crucial for the processing phase of the process, so the 6.5 is preferable.
What size of primary do you have?
fermentation required a 7-7.5 gal fermenter. after that they kits are designed for the 6 gal carboy and you need to limit the airspace to 1/2" - 1" from the bung. This is unlike ales as such. you need to rack a few times into other 6 gals carboys. or back to a bucket back to the 1 carboy. wine will oxidase and turn if you finish it in a fermenting with a lot of air contact across the fermenter.
Yes, you do need the large volume in the primary. Especially for a big grape skin kit like the Red Mountain Cab.
As far as the headspace goes in the carboy, there is no need to worry about oxidation in the early stages. Extra head space is actually desirable for proper degassing. But having a second carboy for racking is a good point.
I usually rack the wine several times over a few months, so it ends up %100 sediment free with no filtering. After this I bottle and do not age in the carboy. I don’t worry about topping up into the neck, but I definitely would if I aged it any longer in bulk.
I just have the standard beer bucket, it’s probably only 6.5 gallons. I will need to purchase a 7.9 gal wine bucket to ensure no loss of liquid.
I also think I will top up with a low cost cabernet so I can age for 6 months or so before bottling.
That’s the plan so far, I may wind up bottling after 3 months though we will see.
I’d definately go with a larger primary. In the case of CC grape skin kits, they are designed to be filled to the 23l mark before the skins are added.
I usually fill to just below that mark, then add skins to reach slightly above 23l. If you fill to 23l including skins there will be a slightly higher chance of the kit stalling - though this is much more of an issue with the Amarone kit however - it’s gravity is significantly higher, so it should not be concentrated at all.
Yes, if you are going to age for a while in the carboy, top up with wine.