Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fruit of the vine... tastes mighty fine!

Another phase completed. It's a little like having a baby at home!

We gathered all our bits... pitchers, funnels, empty plastic water bottle, sieves, buckets, large cooking pot, muslin, clean bottle, vat of grape sludge, people, and started to follow step TWO of winemaking... separating the "wheat from the chaff" or actually, the juice from the sludge. Sammy went for removing as much liquid from the big vat as possible before emptying the remains into the wine press.

Next step was pouring the juice into the big bottle. Tony and Barbara came to help Sammy and I this morning. This part really wasn't something that required a lot of people,

Tony was the official "strong guy" and the designated "filler of the bottle"-

Barbara was the perfect "keeping things cleaned up before the wasps drive us mad" as well as "controller of the hose" person-

Sammy was the excellent "explainer" and the "show-er how to do it" person (as well as the "get really sticky and covered with grape sludge" person)-

Whist I was the official photographer and "gofer" for all bits thought up as we went along, as well as "keeper of the sludge" while Sammy scooped up the juice. (I was also, briefly, the "tipper of the vat" so she could scoop up the last half pitcher for Tony to pour into the big bidon bottle.)

Next step was getting the sludge into the wine press and squeezing it dry. Well, in theory. (As we had a very small amount of actual grapes to press, there was some question as to how to get it to squeeze down that low. )

Sammy and her faithful gofer (after taking a few pictures) lifted the sludge with hands (and then tupperware) into the wine press AFTER having carefully placed a large saucepan/pot with a sieve on top UNDER the drip spout.

Then we started the squeezing process. Turning the handle of the press around, the heavy press squeezes down on the sludge. Blocks of wood fit over the grapes and you add more blocks of wood as the grape sludge goes deeper down (and the juice comes out).

[click to see pictures closer up]

Once done we broke out the glasses to give it a taste!

YUM!!! It was nice and rich tasting and sweet and if the alcohol content is high enough, we might have a pretty good - if pretty small batch out of all this!

Sammy said that the sweeter the juice is, the dryer the finished wine becomes when it turns- finally- into wine.

It IS fermenting so it has a tiny bit of fizz on top. It was lovely and all the more so because it was OURS!!!

Tony and Barbara have decided to have vines as well, now. Soon we'll have a neighborhood wine co-op!

Pretty cool I say.


For now the objective is to keep the bottle filled to the top with the plastic water bottle of juice I've got held back. I've covered the big bottle with muslin and an elastic band to keep out the bugs, but I'll be checking it daily as it will ferment - and overflow out of the bottle!- and it will need to be topped up again and again.

From what I understand is the next step... we will have to transfer it to another bottle (leaving the sediment/sludge behind) and then again transfer it a third time, before actually bottling it.

As there are still a fair lot of grapes still left on the vine, we'll try and take another cutting and do the same thing again when T gets home next week, maybe even adding some roadside (roadkill??) grapes to the mix and see if we can do another batch and make a goodly amount in total. It might turn out really well!

For now... we wait for about a month for this batch to bubble and fizz. (Obviously I will keep the blog updated for all who are curious!)

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  1. I'm quite enjoying this. It's making me think a bit more about increasing our grapevines.

  2. It's like being pregnant by proxy - except that the baby will be your very own vino, and I imagine you will devour it with great gusto!

    Can't wait for the next thrilling episode.
    (Meanwhile, I'm loving your blog soundtrack - guaranteed to chill me out, big time.)

  3. Dear Ayak- It's very much a worthwhile thing to do and it IS enjoyable, but I don't think I'd like to have done it alone. For sure, tho, it's fun with a lot of people participating.

    Dear She Means Well- YES! It does take up sort of the same amount of time and then everyone tells you the process is "simple" and "inevitable" but actually it takes a lot more work than you thought! (JUST like being pregnant)

    But of course, as with both, it's all about the reward at the end. (I really hope it doesn't taste like vinegar... just because it would be really really nice to have the whole process thing actually WORK!)

  4. I was really fascinated by this! It's like magic, only with a lot of work in the middle. I hope it comes out delicious.

    (Am I the only one who's picturing Lucille Ball crushing grapes with her feet?)

  5. Dear Vic, I always wondered if magic wasn't really just a lot of work "behind the curtain", as it were!

    Re: Lucille Ball- YES! I totally thought of that when I stepped into the grapes and they all squished around my jelly wellies! It was SUCH a bizarre feeling- but like I said, I am just too afraid of wasp and hornet bites to take a chance stomping them barefoot. (I fished out two hornets and FIVE wasps from the sludge...)



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