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Archive for August 19th, 2009

We make wine

Yesterday we picked the row of Marechal foch grapes.   They were ready, Jim is going to be gone at the end of the week and it seemed like it was high time we got them off the vine.   The Brix was right, the acidity was right.   Time to pick!

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Below is a view of the vineyard row, with the netting removed, ready to pick.   Notice the coolers:  we pick into them.

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We picked lots of grapes, rejoicing in the beauty of the clusters.

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When the coolers were full, we toted them around to the work area, where we had the stemmer/crusher set up.

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Interesting machine, it comes in a hand operated or motor operated version.   We don’t have that big a vineyard, so we declined to spring for the extra 200 bucks that would have gotten us a little electric motor to turn the crank.   The stemmer/crusher is basically the same machine that has been used in Italian (and probably French, Portuguese, and Spanish) vineyards for centuries.  The only thing different from the ancient machines is that this one is made of metal rather than wood.   When it arrived in a box that was labeled only in Italian, it had no directions with it.   Apparently, this thing has been around for so long that anyone using it already knows how it works and how to put it together.

We figured it out — it’s not rocket science.  The first year we did not have the handy dandy stand it is sitting on, and the grapes fell straight out the bottom into a big rubbermaid container.   That worked okay, but the stand was worth the money.

So, we dumped the grapes into the hopper.

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Turn the big handle and crushed grapes minus most of their stems flow out the spout.   The stems get pushed out the rear into the wheelbarrow waiting at left.

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While we were doing this process, literally hundreds of spiders were decamping.   I suspect this, plus the ubiquitous wrens, may be why we had absolutely no aphid problems in the vineyard this year.  We also had very few problems with grape leaf hoppers or grape flea beetles.

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I discovered that a little spider can make it through the stemmer crusher apparatus without being crushed.   I rescued several as they were drowning in the collected juice/grape mixture.    Mostly I just let them figure it out on their own.   They are definitely not an endangered species, and I was busy.

As Jim noted as we were enjoying a glass of last year’s vintage (very good, by the way) at dinner, since this wine is unfiltered it is likely that we are drinking tiny bits of web and spider exoskeleton along with the wine.   Knowing that didn’t diminish my pleasure one bit.

We got 15 gallons of must.  We sacrificed 5 cups of juice (enough for a whole bottle of wine!) in order to make a batch of  jelly.   Wine grapes make a very superior jelly.  This is a the view of the must as it rests in the primary fermenter.

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Today it had the yeast pitched, and it will soon be making the dining room (which is where we keep the primary fermenter) smell like a winery.

And so, next year’s wine is on its way to becoming wine.   Salúd!

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