Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grape Crushing

The middle of Sept is a very special time for a small group of my friends and me.  More than the harvests from our gardens, the salmon returns, chanterelles in the hills or the whiff of a new hunting season, the middle of Sept means the delivery of our grapes from the sunny state of California.   Our order this year was a 1000 lbs of Cabernet Sauvignon, and a 1000 lbs Sangiovese.   The brains behind our operation is Jason, master drinker with not enough answers but all the right questions.  Upon his advise we chose the Cab due to the cool wet weather California experienced this summer and that the Cab grape clusters tend to be loosely packed, and maybe less susceptible to mould.  He turned out to be spot on in his prediction and we found not a lick of mould.

The brawn of our little group would be Armando, whose family actually brought the crusher and press to Canada from Rome many years ago.

Ben was gracious enough to stand as proxy for his father Dave who couldn't be present because he was drinking Riesling in the hills of Rheingau.   Danke Schoen, baby.

Then there's your truly.  They love my truck.   And my immaculate white t-shirts.

You might be surprised how easy it is to make wine.  Well from the mutts above, perhaps you wouldn't be surprised at all.   First you must order your grapes from someone.  We get ours from Ambrosio Wholesale here in Victoria, BC.  Jodi and John a first rate merchants and great cocktail company to boot.  They truck in a couple semi trailers of grapes every year for local wine makers and they know how to get your grapes to you quickly and efficiently.   They can be reached at 250.889.1189

Now you must crush the grapes.  You could go old school and use your feet, but we use an actual grape crusher which just breaks the skins.  But first make sure you clean your equipment.  We typically use bleach to sanitize the surfaces that will come into contact with grape must.  

What's wine making without drinking wine, eating and telling stories?

Eventually, we will actually start pressing grapes. 

We crush into 100 liter fermentation buckets.  These are simply food grade plastic buckets that you can buy at Industrial Paint and Plastics.  We typically fill the buckets about half full as they will develop a cap of grape skins and actually rise during fermentation.  To help the fermentation get started on the right path (read: not vinegar) we pitch yeast into each bucket.  

Then we open up some more bottles and talk about weather and the price of horses.

Then it's clean up time.  Things get hosed down and put away. Grape crates get burned in the pit. 

 Enter Dionysus and his minions:

The must will ferment in the vessels for about a week or two.  Care and diligence must be made to punch down the cap daily.  We use a garden hoe.  By punching down the cap you mix the grapes skins that have formed at the top back down to juice at the bottom.  I'm not sure what it does, but apparently it is a good thing.  Why argue.   Drink in moderation.  Did Oscar Wilde say something about that?

Next step, press.


About This Blog

Adelio Trinidad is a Victoria B.C. based photographer. He typically works on his blog after his children have gone to bed.

Please visit his site: www.adeliotrinidad.com

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