By Cecily G
Happy #WineWednesday, fellow wine-os! Last week, we discussed the importance of grape harvest, and what steps go into this vital process. (Catch up here!) Today, we are going to continue this by discussing what goes on after the grapes are off the vine. The process is known as crush; it is the first step the grapes take from fruit to juice once at the winery.
The first step once the grapes have arrived at the winery is to sort for quality. What generally happens is that the grapes will travel down a conveyor belt, with people on either side, keeping a watchful eye for any undesirable bunches. Those bunches, along with leaves, foliage, and anything else that may have snuck in, is removed and thrown away.
All of the best grapes that make the cut will then move on to be de-stemmed and crushed. Depending on the type of wine made, grapes can be de-stemmed before or after being crushed. Many wineries use machines that automatically crush and de-stem; the grapes are crushed in a rolling barrel, moving them enough to break the skins and expose the juice and pulp. The grapes are de-stemmed in a drum, equipped with a spinning bar and paddle, that push the grapes to the walls of the drum and separate the stems from the berries.
Some winemakers may choose to not have their wines go through this process, and instead go directly into a press. Pressing separates the juice from the skins, and ensures that the skins and stems don’t contribute to the tannins and color of a wine. Many white grapes will go this route.
After crush, fermentation begins! But, we will save that for another day. 😉 Happy crush!