First Transfer of White Wine (Lees Management)


Once the correct TA/pH and SO2 levels have been adjusted, the lees will have been stirred-up during the addition and the wine will be cloudy. We can either transfer the wine now to our ageing/storage vessels or we can wait. The timing and how we carry out this racking will determine the amount of lees we end up with in our ageing/storage vessels after the transfer.

  1. If you will not be working with the lees and are trying to keep the wine as clean as possible, rack after a large portion of the lees have settled back out after being stirred-up from the SO2 addition. Usually in 1-3 days.
  2. If you will be working with the lees, how soon you rack after the SO2 addition determines the quantity of lees you will be working with:  
  • Full lees desired: We can rack immediately after the SO2 addition has been made.  However, since we will be using all of the lees, it is also possible to not rack at this time and carry out our ageing/storage in the original fermenter (assuming we don't need the vessel).

Note: We can use the full lees from the fermentation with no problem because we already racked off the press solids during the juice preparation. This eliminated the pulp, skin particles, vineyard residue, etc that could be the cause of H2S formation if present in the lees. If we did not settle the solids out of our juice before the fermentation began, we need to follow the “partial lees desired” protocol below to eliminate them from the wine.  The unwanted grape solids are heavier than the yeast and will settle out first after each stirring. Thus they will be on the bottom layer when the lees settle back out. Racking only the top layers post settling will ensure the unwanted elements stay behind!

  • Partial lees desired: You can rack before all of the lees have settled back out after stirring in our SO2 addition (usually after 12- 24hrs), or we can rack after settling completely (1-3 days) and just stir a portion of the lees back up off of the bottom of the vessel during the transfer.

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