Last fall I expanded my wine and mead making to around 20 carboys and 50 one gallon jugs. Like beekeeping have to streamline the processes. If you have one hive you can name each bee but when you have 50 you're lucky to name each hive.
Racking use to take forever especially sanitation between each batch, now I rack all the same yeast and only a quick rinse. I do the meads first then the wines. I start with sanitized empties and sanitize between yeasts.
I found a yeast that works with this process. Last fall after wanting a yeast with a lower tolerance I tried Wyeast Sweet Mead 4184 (11%) they also make a "Dry Mead Yeast" with about the same tolerance. "4184" leaves residual sugar just what I was looking for. It has turn out great! It clears very quick without any help. I even made a 7% mead "Lucky 7" with a little sweetness to it, can't hardly tell it's got alcohol in it, very smooth. Then I tries red wines with the same yeast, they also turned out great, lots of fruit flavor. Now I am making all kinds of things with it; a Mango Mead that is Awsome! (and it's only three months old). A dragon's blood that gets better every time I taste it. I will be using this yeast for most of my wine and mead making for now on, the only other yeast I plan on using will be D47.
When making a new batch I add honey and or juice directly to the used carboys from the newest batch I just racked only rinsing with cool water so there is no yeast sediment on the bottom. The batch seems to start just fine in the used carboys. There is a process called "washing yeast" you reuse your yeast over and over but you don't want the dead sentiment. This is saving me time and money by not making a starter each time.
Another time saver is making two identical batches at a time. Unless I am trying something new. It only take a little longer to make two. This way we have one to drink and one to age.
The one gallon jugs are for storing, it sure beats all the corking I use to do. Now I cork gifts or traveling bottles when we go on vacation, we bring our own.
When repeating one of my standard recipes I only take SG readings if I'm using honey, otherwise if I use set amount of juice then I skip that step too.
This leaves more time for bees
Anyone else have any tips or tricks to save time or money?
Some of us take the time no matter how much we do. You do not win the Mazer cup by rushing things. Any more than you enjoy the mead more by guzzling it. If your time is so short that you cannot offer the craft what it deserves then you need to rethink things. Cheep Vodka does the same thing and only takes a few minutes to acquire.
Plenty of time in this old world if you look for it.
I think optimization of processes is a good goal for any operation. It isn't the same as not taking time to do it right, just to do it right without wasted effort and expense. I got into beekeeping partially because I like to make beer and wine and wanted to make mead. After a few times making a particular kind of wine, I stopped taking SG as well. It shouldn't change much...and really, don't care if each batch is slightly different. I am not a commercial operation, I don't need a uniform product every year. I also started putting the wine in 1.5 liter bottles, saving half the corking One thing I wish I were better at and always swear I am going to do...is take better notes while I am doing something new/different. I look forward to my first batch of mead and in a couple of years, I might be able to offer you advice...but right now, I take note of your process. Thanks for sharing.
I never became a fan of Wyeast, preferring White Labs for my beers and Red star or Lalvin dry yeasts for my wines. But if you're getting such good results with them, I may need to try again.
My youngest told me the other day that she and her BF are "talking about getting married", maybe next year, so I guess I need to get something special aging soon.
Nice wine room, looks like you have years of wine and mead.
How old are the oldest bottles.
Some of my meads are as old as 8 years I have wines much older. I use synthetic corks for long term aging after a year with a standard cork, To prevent further oxidation. I have a blended wine Of Merlo, Fredonia and Carmenere that is 18 years old. It has such a great nose and body with a finish that makes one want to squeeze it down the throat. I have 17 bottles left and only think about opening one for very special occasions.