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No fermentation

Hi. I’ve done natural fermentation with my dad since getting out of the Air Force in 2003. Every year the wine has come out great! Every year we’ve done Concord grapes, but this year, we are also doing Niagaras, and I picked enough Niagara grapes to yield about 11 gallons of juice. Unfortunately, things came up at home and I wasn’t able to get the juice strained and sugar added for an additional week. The upside to this is that it gave everything time to settle, and when I siphoned the juice off of the top, I ended up with relatively clear juice. I added the sugar, and now it’s been a couple of days, and it doesn’t look like anything is happening. There are absolutely no bubbles to indicate any fermentation action. What might I have done wrong, and is there a way to kick-start the fermentation process? Can I add wine yeast at this point? Thanks.

One other thing, I also unfortunately got my volume calculation wrong (πr2h*.00432900431) by mixing my radius and height numbers, and I ended up adding a bit more sugar than I would have liked. The juice tasted ok, but I think it’s going to be a bit sweeter than I would like. Assuming there is a way to kick start the fermentation, is there a way to take down the sugar a bit, aside from adding more juice, which I don’t have?


Hi again,

Just curious if anyone knows anything about a stuck fermentation for wine. Thanks.

I’ve never done “'natural” fermentation, but is it possible your must already fermented after a week of sitting? Was it refrigerated or left at room temperature?

You don’t give gravity readings, so it’s hard to make an intelligent guess, but that’s never stopped me before…

At this point, I’d make a starter with a couple of packs of yeast- one with the must and one with a sugar solution (to satisfy my curiosity). Hopefully you’ll see activity in both. Then I’d pitch both with some yeast nutrient and yeast energizer and daily stirrings.

Lalvin K1-V1116 (Montpellier) or Red Star Premier Cuvee (blue package) are both suppose to help restart a stuck fermentation.

Good Luck.

Have you added anything to the juice other than the sugar? Campden tablets perhaps? If the answer is “no”, then I really don’t know what is going on. There is so much yeast that naturally hangs out on grapes that something should be going on in there. Unless the grapes were sprayed with a fungicide soon before picking? That would stop the yeast.

Adding 2-3 packages of wine yeast would be the next logical step if you want to try to get the fermentation going. Also, buy a hydrometer. It will really let you know exactly how much sugar you should add for the grapes you use (remember, the sugar level in the grapes varies from year to year), as well as allow you to monitor fermentation. And having too much sugar won’t give you a too-sweet wine, it will give you a too-alcoholic wine. Unless you add a LOT of sugar, then you’ll get a massively alcoholic sweet wine.

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