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How much is enough? (Part 2)

2009 February 4

Yesterday, I starting thinking about how much wine I should make and immediately went into barrel sizes. Probably because barrels will be a major expense and the one thing that will ultimately determine how much I’ll be able to make.

I’m thinking that 30 gallons would be a good amount to make because I may be able to find used 30 gallon barrels.  But at roughly 9.2 lbs. per gallon, 30 gallons of wine will weigh about 275 lbs. without the container weight–not something I can easily move around without a forklift. In the end, I chose to buy three 32 gallon food grade Rubbermaid trash cans.  They’re white with loose fitting lids and each should be able to hold about 20 gallons of grape must and leave enough room for the cap to form and not slosh out when moved.

I’m planning to make a full-bodied red such as a Syrah or Cabernet. Here’s the formula I’m using to determine how many pounds of grapes to get:

17 lbs. of grapes = 1 gallon of finished wine
9.5 lbs. of grapes = 1 gallon of must
1.8 gallons of must = 1 gallon of finished wine

My calculations assume some loss from spillage and evaporation. Working backwards I get:

30 gallons finished wine + 3 – 5 gallons for topping off. = 60 gallons must
60 gallons of must = 570 lbs. of grapes (round up to 600 lbs.)
So I’ll need about 600 lbs. of grapes.

Since each 32-gallon trash can will hold about 20 gallons of must, three of them should suffice.  Each can will weight about 190 lbs. filled.  Hopefully, two people should be able to move them to and from the back of my RAV4.  I’m pretty sure three cans will fit in the back and the 570 lbs total weight won’t be an issue.

Chime in on my predicament. How much wine do you think I should make?

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