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crushing grapes - a question.

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BernardSmith

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Just obtained 72 lbs of Sangiovese grapes from my LHBS and I used an old milk crate to destem and crush them but I don't know how well the grapes were "crushed". My sense is that "crushing" means that the vast, vast majority of the grapes are now in the fermenter with their skins split or damaged but the amount of juice extracted was very little. Am I way off base here? I added some pectic enzyme to help extract color and to help produce more juice and I added some K-meta with the goal of pitching my yeast after about 24 hours of cool maceration but should I be pounding on the grapes to extract much more juice? Thanks.
 

mainshipfred

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Bernard, as long as the berries are as you put damaged is all that needs to happen. The fact you don't have a lot of juice immediately after crush should not be a concern. During fermentation and with the process of punching down juice will be extracted from the grapes. The use of pectic enzyme will help the cell walls break down to extract even more juice. Personally I think things are as they should be.
 

NorCal

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I set the wheels of my destemmer / crusher to the outer limits to get a gentle crush for a few reasons.
1. crush less of the stems & seeds
2. leave a partial amount of whole berries in the ferment

I think that being light on the crush avoids some of the harsher tannins and the whole berries are slower to ferment than the berries that are crushed open, which I want. Most all berries break open by the end of fermentation due to the fermentation process or from punch downs.
 

BernardSmith

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Too early to punch down but I was punching the fruit down anyway to see how much juice had been extracted and there is significantly more now, about 4 hours after adding the enzymes than when I transferred the grapes from the container they were in after destemming and crushing into the buckets... This is exciting, I gotta say. Very exciting. First time working with fresh grapes.
 

Boatboy24

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This is exciting, I gotta say. Very exciting. First time working with fresh grapes.
Welcome to it. A whole different world from kits and juice. More work for certain, but intellectually and oenological-ly more rewarding.
 

AaronSC

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I never tire of seeing a think mass of freshly crushed grapes with little obvious juice turn into well-separated cap and juice layer by the end of the week -it's like magic.

It's amazing how different the grape cultivars are. Zinfandel and Malbec are juicy right from the start. On the other end of the spectrum Cabernet Franc and Mourvedre are like a solid mass when things start out. One thing I've noticed is that the less juice you have at crush, the longer the primary fermentation will last -anyone else notice that?
 

NorCal

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I never tire of seeing a think mass of freshly crushed grapes with little obvious juice turn into well-separated cap and juice layer by the end of the week -it's like magic.

It's amazing how different the grape cultivars are. Zinfandel and Malbec are juicy right from the start. On the other end of the spectrum Cabernet Franc and Mourvedre are like a solid mass when things start out. One thing I've noticed is that the less juice you have at crush, the longer the primary fermentation will last -anyone else notice that?
I agree that having less juice is a contributing factor to a slower fermentation. Less juice also can accompany higher brix and therefore a higher % of sugar, which can also take longer to ferment.
 

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