1999 White Cabernet Sauvignon

October 1999 – For a variety of reasons, vacation time this year fell in the first two weeks of September, so I thought I wasn’t going to be able to make any wine. But the Cabernet Sauvignon matures later, so I was able to get some. Unfortunately, Hurricane Floyd was the beginning of a LOT of rain, so the quality of this year’s Cabernet is low. The owner of the vineyard where I picked the Cabernet suggested making a lighter bodied red — he thought the quality of the grapes was low enough that a heavier red would turn out too bitter and astringent.

On 2 October 1999 I picked 102 lbs of Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes had some black rot, and many berries had actually burst from too much water. The yellow jackets were pretty thick — digging deeply into the berries. Turned out the best bunches were where the yellow jackets were thickest. So I’d shoo them away and pick fast before they came back.

This year picking was slow. I had to check each bunch for rot, and to remove any rotted, dried, or burst berries. It took at least twice as long as normal to pick — very disheartening.

After thinking things through, I decided to make a White Cabernet, and to do a second run from the pulp. So I crushed the grapes and immediately pressed them. My result was just short of 6 gallons of juice, at 17-1/2 brix. I sulphited the juice heavily and reserved 2 quarts of juice to use as pour back. At the same time I started a second run off the pulp. I planned to let this ferment for just 2 days before pressing, to keep it light bodied.

1999 White Cabernet


Fruit 102 lbs cabernet sauvignon, pressed to produce 6 gallons juice
Sulfite 1/2 tsp
Yeast Nutrient 5 tsp
Yeast Energizer 5 energizer tablets
Pectic Enzyme 2 tsp
Yeast Red Star Montrachet


Crushed and pressed the grapes, reserving the pulp to make a second run batch.

I have no clue why I did not record the specific gravity. However, the initial brix translates to SG 1.072

SG 1.072
I inoculated the juice today without increasing the brix from the natural 17.5. My plan is to get the fermentation going and to then kick it up to the equivalent of 25 brix. This may seem high, but I’ll be adding back 2 quarts juice for sweetening, so that should cut the alcohol back to about 11%. I haven’t performed the calculations yet, so the 25 brix is a guess. My goal is a final alcohol of 11% (+/-), so I’ll adjust the sugar additions accordingly. 10/03/1999
SG 1.072
As of tonight the fermentation hasn’t started. So I took two packages champagne yeast, hydrated them and added to the juice. That should get things going. 10/05/1999
SG 1.072
Now I’m getting worried. As of this morning fermentation just isn’t going! However, the second run is fermenting wildly, to the point where the foam pushed up the plastic wrap I’ve covered the fermenter with. So I took 2 cups of wine from the second run and added it to the juice. Hopefully that will kick start it. 10/07/1999
SG 1.072
My worries are ended! That last addition did it. This batch is perking along at high speed — but with all the yeast in it, it should! 10/08/1999
SG 1.072
I figured out that to get an effective 24 brix, I need to add 5-1/2 lbs of sugar to this batch. I was short on time this morning, so I quickly added 1 lb to get the fermentation going again. 10/11/1999
SG ???
Added another 3 lbs of sugar to kick the effective brix up. I decided to reduce the final alcohol, so I added a total of 4 lbs sugar instead of 5-1/2.

Note: By my calculation the addition of 4 lbs of sugar to 6 gallons juice should have pushed the OG to 1.085, had I done it at the beginning, as I should have.

SG ???
Fermentation is complete, so I racked it into a 5 gallon carboy and 1 gallon jug. Added 3 tsp bentonite to help in clearing. 10/20/1999
SG 0.996
Dropped quite a bit of sediment, but the wine isn’t clearing too well. I’m going to give it another week, and then pour back the reserved juice and add pectic enzyme. We’ll see what that does. 10/24/1999
SG 0.996
Added the reserved juice and 2 tsp pectic enzyme. We’ll let this set for a few weeks and then rack. Lot of sediment in the juice, although I decanted it and left most of it behind.

Note: adding 2 quarts into 20 quarts should have produced an SG of 1.003, so I’m going with that.

SG 1.003
LOTS of sediment — this has needed racking for a few weeks but I just didn’t have the time to devote to it. But I racked it today. The wine is nice and clear. I think I’ll let it set for a few months to ensure that it is clear before bottling. 12/11/1999
SG 1.003
Finally got my butt in gear and bottled this. It’s nice and clear and has a slightly rose color, just barely off white. Taste is OK, we’ll see what it does after 3 months in the bottle. 05/13/2000
SG 1.003


Yield 28 bottles
Alcohol 12.1%
Residual Sugar 0.8%
Afterthoughts I have no excuse for not recording SG.
08/14/2000 No sediment is dropping, which is good. But I’m still not wild about the taste. Something is a little off, maybe just a hint of astringency, which is odd for a slightly sweet wine.
06/10/2001 Scratch my remaining case — OXIDATION!!! This batch and the second run both oxidized at about the same time. ARRGGGHH!
07/15/2021 I was reviewing old records and spotted how badly this one was recorded, so I fixed what I could, for later reference. The updated SG figures are probably off a bit, but are accurate enough for my interests. I didn’t record SG the way I should have, this record is an example of what not to do.