Our vineyard team picked 81 tons of grapes! Now what happens?
Our Winemaking Team Gets Really Busy!
What a long and stunning growing season!
Harvest lasted until Tuesday, October 13th!
For most of us, when we hear the words, “wine grapes”, and, “crush”, visions of of large, round, slotted wooden vats with big metal screw-driven plungers come to mind. Or, more enjoyably, memories of the wonderful 1960’s Lucille Ball Show where Lucy has donned a traditional Italian peasant dress hiked up to her knees happily stomping grapes with her feet, in a huge round vat the size of a small swimming pool! You can actually get the juice out of your grapes with either of these methods, but there is a better, more gentle process to maximize the juice extracted while maximizing the quality of the wine. There are a couple steps to the better process we refer to as “Pressing”.
What’s the difference, and why is this important?
Crushing grapes the old way does get the juice out of the grapes but also pulverizes the stems, skins and seeds. Why is this not ideal? The next time you buy a bunch of grapes pull a single grape, with the stem still attached, off the bunch. Gently bite into the stem and you will get a “green” bitter taste. Now peel off some of the skin and gently bite into this. You will get a slightly sour taste that can be described as tannic. Now, very gently bite into the seed. You will get another bitter but woody taste. Compare these to the sweet juice and pulp taste of the rest of the interior of the grape. When wine grapes are pulverized the old way, these bitter tastes can carry through to the final quality of the wines. Tannins are one of the essential final components in a fine wine, but they must be at the proper level. (In our next edition we are going to describe the fermentation process, which involves the skins actually soaking in this freshly produced grape juice.)
- “First Press”, (cracking the skins, not pulverizing)
- Collect the First Press Juice in the fermentation tank
- Second Press, (bladder press the pulp)
- Collect the Second Press Juice and pulp and cracked skins in the fermentation tank
- Start the fermentation process
This sophisticated method of “Pressing” is more complicated and expensive vs. crushing, but the quality of our wines that it produces is absolutely worth the effort!
When you look at the picture below, you will see a large, square, white bin that holds about 1,000 lbs of grapes, being slowly tipped over and pouring the grapes into a large steel machine. You can see the winemaking crew pulling out any leaves or spoiled bunches and then let the grapes roll under a safety shield where they drop into the de-stemmer that then feeds the grapes into the First Press part of the machine.
Stems coming out the side of the machine. These are biodegradable.
Below shows the juice coming out of the bottom of the De-Stemmer/First Press machine. The juice goes into the fermentation tank through the hose on the bottom. This First Press gets about 80% of the juice out of the grapes.
The slot on the bottom of the machine shows the juice dropping and flowing into the striped pipe on the bottom.
Now all of the good stuff that’s left in the De-Stemmer/First Press machine goes into the Horizontal Bladder Press. This is a large stainless steel machine loaded with all of the pulp from the first press. The machine has a large plastic membrane on the inside that separates the inside of the drum into two spaces. One side is filled with water. The other side is where the pulp is added. The machine then spins the whole drum, and the centrifugal force pushes the water side of the bladder against the pulp and voile’! The rest of the juice gets extracted without pulverizing the skins and seeds then getting pumped into the fermentation tank.
The next step in turning great grapes into great wine is, “Fermentation”.
We'll cover that in a future edition!
Cheers! Sue & Jim Langman
The first drops of juice from the 2020 Harvest on the Langman Estate!
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