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I am trying my hand at making wine, starting out with 13 l of grape must. After primary fermentation, I separated the liquid from the pomace, ending up with some 8 l of liquid and approximately 5 l of pomace.

Can I compost the fermented pomace? Or will the alcohol and/or yeast cultures (which, at the end of primary fermentation, would be mostly, but not completely dead) harm the microflora in my pile?

I use a bottomless plastic compost bin. The wine was fermented with wild yeasts on the grapes – I did not use any additives, not even water, let alone sugar, cultivated yeasts, sulphites or anything else.

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    Don't worry about yeast, that composts well. Lees (from winemaking) or trub (from beer) are good too, and that's just mostly dead yeast.
    – Chris H
    Oct 2, 2023 at 13:17

2 Answers 2

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You could distill the pomace and make aquavitae (grappa, but apparently grappa is only supposed to be for pomace from Italy) first, if I recall that correctly ;^)

Anyway, yes, it can be composted. Ideally you would mix it with a considerable quantity of dry "brown" (high carbon) materials (straw, shavings, sawdust, etcetera) rather than just dumping a big slug of wet pomace in the composter that would tend to go anaerobic. Mixing well with the other compost at minimum.

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    Well, I’m just learning winemaking. Once I got that down, I might take up distilling next :-)
    – user149408
    Oct 1, 2023 at 14:52
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    I found distilling was a good way to handle wine that was not very good. You call it brandy. Still have a few ounces of a pretty good peach brandy. Oct 1, 2023 at 18:01
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    Unfortunately it's illegal to distill alcohol at home in many countries. Oct 2, 2023 at 12:49
  • I fully agree with this answer: The compost processes should bring things back into balance and a good initial balance (carbon:nitrogen, moisture:ventilation, acidic:neutral, dense:"airy", etc. etc.) of added materials will help/speed it up. If you also want to sharpen up composting skills, I like to recommend Joe Jenkins' The Humanure Handbook ;-). I recall he mentions adding a few gallons of stale beer from a nearby brewery to his compost. And if all else fails, "turn" your compost to bring in air again, to favor aerobic microorganisms.
    – frIT
    Oct 2, 2023 at 12:56
  • One side effect of pomace is that it attracts fruit flies, see gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/63182/….
    – user149408
    Oct 3, 2023 at 19:27
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I also do wine (at larger scale, but still not at professional level), so I get a lot of pomace. I think you may have too much of it (you may want to press it more).

In any case, I put it back in my vineyard over "lawn", trying to get as low density as I can. In middle spring you will find no changes on lawn composition, but in winter and start spring I notice burning: pomace is very acid.

In good compost, I think you may get similar "harm". Maybe you can put at top with leaves (and maybe above some ash) for the winter break. Rain will dilute acidity and lower layers will keep vitality for later.

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  • Good point about the acidity. I have added some BBQ ashes a few times over the summer (and once more right after adding the pomace) and turned the pile regularly, hope the effects of the pomace and ash will cancel each other out.
    – user149408
    Oct 3, 2023 at 19:26

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