It’s all about pressing the grape skins for maximum flavor extraction in making wine at home part three! In part two of my winemaking series, yeast was introduced to the grape skins and juice. For the last 10 days, they were punched down every day in a bin and now officially ready to be pressed. The cool part in all this, the juice is already considered wine.
How cool is that? In three steps I’ve already technically made wine.
For the record, this project ended up bigger than I could have ever imagined. We filled up 16 barrels…in our garage! With that being said, I can only guess next year will be even bigger.
Making Wine at Home – Part Three
This winemaking process is really becoming a thing for me. I’m even calling myself a junior winemaker (for fun). Hey, after hours of pushing grape skins down with a stick like tool, I figured I earned a title!
If you’re actually trying this at home with a small batch of grapes, you can most likely get away with a tabletop fruit press for around $100 bucks. Since we had a lot to work with, we used a basket press. It requires a few extra hands and some muscle behind them. The process is still the same.
We used a large platform and moved the barrels underneath and used either buckets or a funnel to capture the wine. It’s probably by far the messiest part of making wine.
The large cylinder, called a basket, is filled with grape skins and the wine juice by bucket until the machine has been filled to the top. The wine juice will already be flowing well before the top even gets locked on.
Once the basket is full and the lid is secured it’s covered with plastic to avoid spillage. A large tube inside the basket is filled with water and presses against the grape skins to extract as much wine as possible. This is done for maximizing the flavor on the wine and getting the most out of the skins.
Control the pressure
As the water fills the rubber tube, you’ll need to keep an eye on the gauge to make sure it’s not going too far above the max. If it does, simply just turn the water pressure down low enough to maintain a max reading until the juice is no longer flowing.
At this point, the press is finished and you can release the pressure of the water from the valve below the machine.
The hose on the bottom is used to drain the rubber tube away from the machine to avoid a giant mess. It’s a bit of tricky process at first, but get’s easier with practice. I feel like we were really efficient at the end compared to a very messy beginning.
I really barely understood wine before all of this and it’s really amazing what a little elbow grease and heart can make. I can’t wait for the day I get to bottle my wine and enjoy it knowing what I put into the whole process. Stay tuned for part four where I walk you through the second fermentation and topping off the barrels. It’s probably my favorite most intimate connection to the wine.