John - I bought 250# of catawba grapes this weekend and will begin to process them Wednesday. My thought was to stick close to the Concord grape recipe shown in the Winemaker's Handbook, but with a few variations that I'd like your comments on, please.
After de-stemming and crushing I was going to leave the grape must in the food grade pails without placing the skins/seeds into a nylon bag. I know Catawba is usually a darker red than Rose, but certainly lighter in color than a typical red. I have seen recommendations to leave the skins in for about 2 hours to get to the right color, but was hoping to leave it longer - say overnight. How long would you keep the skins in the juice?
Once the grapes are crushed and put into the food grade pails I was going to add peptic enzyme, yeast nutrient, Campden, sugar and water (after measuring Brix & TA content), then cover and leave over night. Also, I would punch down the must occassionally during the 24 hour process. After 24 hours I would press the must and using a filter screen remove any skins/seeds to extract all the juice, then after measuring SG, add the yeast. When SG reaches 1.02 I will siphon off the wine into a clean carboy(s).
Do you have any suggestions to my plan that will keep me out of trouble? Thanks so much.