STEP 1: HARVEST
As the season progresses and we get closer to harvest we will begin to sample the grapes for their sugar content. This testing follows a random cluster sampling method that guarantees accurate results. Using our own Gator and stainless steel crusher we gather whole clusters by the lug to remove the lower sugar inner berry bias.
We begin to send our results to all that have signed up for grapes for the current harvest season. Watching the weather and knowing the progress of ripening from previous years we can begin to get an idea of when the optimum sugars will occur. But, as those who have been with us for several years know, last minute cooldowns or heat waves cause new emails to be sent.
When just the right timeframe is discovered, we email everyone so that we can schedule visits with little overlap. You can decide to pick the grapes yourselves (save $0.10/lb) or have us pick them for you. Most decide to have us pick them as it takes a LONG time to pick the grapes yourselves! For those taking uncrushed grapes, it does help to have your container in advance for us to pick into.
IT IS IMPORTANT FOR SOME VARIETIES THAT WE NOT START PICKING UNTIL 10 AM – so please understand that that is why I do not schedule pickups early in the morning! IF YOU WISH TO CRUSH THE GRAPES HERE – we will HELP you – NOT crush them for you.
We do have a forklift available to forklift brutes carefully into the back of station wagons and SUV’s and also forklift macrobins into the back of trucks.
Please be prepared to cover the crushed must as we will be adding SO2 here to protect the must on the way home.
SPECIFIC WHITE WINEGRAPE NOTES
These grapes will be cold from the morning picking and as you sort them and we crush them they will be immediately placed into a lined basket press to be pressed. Some air exposure is inevitable through this process but we try to mitigate this exposure by adding the antioxidant SO2 as we are pressing. PLEASE bring frozen water bottles to keep this juice VERY COLD on the way home.
SPECIFIC RED WINEGRAPE NOTES
Crushed red wine grapes NEED to have their skins present during the fermentation to extract those bold red colors and flavors so after sorting and crushing the “must” is placed directly into your containers. We then add the antioxidant SO2 so that the background microbial level is lowered to a more reasonable level. You MAY decide that you want to COLD SOAK this must, but if you do, it must be kept very cold or ubiquitous vinegar bacteria will begin to produce vinegar even before your yeast fermentation begins!
HOW MUCH DOES A BRUTE HOLD?
You must allow for expansion during fermentation of at least 25% of the volume of your fermentation vessel. Ballpark estimate: FOR EVERY 100 lbs of crushed grapes you will need about 11 gallons of brute space:
* 20 gal brute ~ 175 lbs
* 32 gal brute ~ 300 lbs
* 44 gal brute ~ 400 lbs
PRESS YIELD RULE OF THUMB:
For every 100 lbs. of must, you will need 7 gallons of secondary storage. (for future reference!)
CLICK HERE TO MOVE TO STEP 2!