Once back at the college with the two alfalfa bins containing our morning labor (stored in the cellar to cool) and the machinery in place we began the destemming process, literally removing the fruit from the stem.
I was still really overheated from securing netting in the vineyard and feeling dehydrated, so I listened, took lots of pictures, as you will see, and carried or moved what needed moving.
Before the fruit, we cleaned, everything: machinery, hand tools, all hoses, gaskets and clamps. If anything dropped to the ground or came into contact with something other than the grapes, it was cleaned again. Dipping your hands into the bins to wash the clamps and such also cleaned our hands. Once this cleaning had been accomplished, the grapes in the large bins were brought forth on the forklift and put on the tipping platform.
We used carbon dioxide to keep the fruit cold and minimize the oxygen contact; this was important as the oxidation of the fruit produces a distinct brown color. Think apple core or banana peel and you know why we do this. The bins or tanks get carbon dioxide, the fruit gets it, anywhere it will be confined it is gassed to ensure minimal oxygen/maximum cooling. Sometimes maximum cooling means freezing – which is yummy.
In this case we put the grapes and juice into a bin and back into the cellar. Tuesday, when we had Chardonnay grapes coming in, we pressed the Muscat grapes into juice and put it into the tank, to sit another twenty-four hours as juice.
Our Chardonnay went right into the press, stems and all, to be juiced. More carbon dioxide to keep the oxidation to a minimum until it went into the tank.
During the pressing we cleaned hands, tools, clamps, and the crush pad repeatedly. When we put up all the juice in tanks we began to clean in earnest. Again, everything that was in contact, which would again be in contact, with grapes was cleaned. We happen to have a very bad infestation of wasps and hornets this year. If there was any grape juice to be had, they stuck around to get it. They were ruthless in the heat, so imagine them as our temperatures cool down and food supplies dwindle. Going to be an interesting harvest season.
‘Til next time.