Stainless or Wooden ???

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Johnd

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After spring and fall grapes, and a number of pressing sessions with my press, I am well pleased with it but am wondering if I'm using the best / most efficient type available.

My basket is stainless steel with holes drilled in it, factory made, not by me. I find that it does an adequate job but have a few issues with it.

Seeds clog the holes when pressure increases, making it more difficult for the wine to be released, and it will also suddenly shoot a stream of juice out several feet while under pressure. I've counteracted the shooting juice by wrapping it in plastic wrap prior to pressing. Sometimes the wine comes to the top of the cake and onto my press plate instead of running out of the basket.

Toward the bottom of the fermenter, there is a lot more sediment and sludge which doesn't release wine very easy when put into the press, so I have to stir and mix it around a good bit to get it to release the wine and to the point where I can actually press it without sludge coming up between the press plate and side of the basket. After pressing the sludge once, the outside of the cake is quite dry and packed hard, with a pocket of juicy skins in the middle, requiring me to fluff the cake back up and press again. There seems to be a lot of sediment in my wine as it exits the press. All of my juice runs through a series of strainer before going into the bucket / carboy, so I'm able to capture it before it gets into the containers. I've experimented with and without mesh bags, the bags seem to clog up quickly and make it harder for the wine to escape.

So here's my questions. Is this typical of wooden press baskets as well, or would I be better served with a wooden press basket for my press? Do you use mesh bags or press without them?

Any experiences you have to share would be appreciated very much.
 

stickman

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John, I have only used the wooden basket type press, and can say that I haven't had many problems. Probably twice, over 26 years, I had a batch of grapes disintegrate during fermentation, and I assumed that it was caused by the condition of the grapes at harvest, very fragile, as well as my use of enzymes.

I think in general, elongated holes or slots are better than round holes for minimizing fouling during draining. I have seen rice hulls used during pressing to allow better drainage and yield when conditions are difficult, like what you describe, but I have never used them myself so I can't really comment on how well they work.

In the past I used strainer bags thinking there was a benefit in reducing the pulp carryover, but I quickly realized it was more trouble than what it was worth. You've seen my posts, I now just use a coarse strainer during free run draining and pressing.
 

Boatboy24

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I tried a strainer bag in my press once. And that was the end of that. Solids are a fact of life with pressing. That's why we rack after a day or two.

WRT holes vs slats, I would think the holes could get clogged easily (as you've experienced).
 

Johnd

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@stickman @boatboy24 Thanks for the responses, I was surmising that pressing could be easier and quicker. Fortunately, the press comes with either the stainless or wood option, so I can pick up the wood basket easily. Gonna give it a whirl.
 

JohnT

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Perhaps you are applying too much pressure?

Here is what I do...

I Add pressure slowly and in stages. I apply just enough pressure to get the wine to flow, then wait and apply more pressure only when the flow drops to just a trickle.

When I reach the point where applying pressure does not seem to do much good, I back off all pressure and give the skins a good "forking". I made a press fork in blacksmithing class to break up and loosen the cake.

When I reapply pressure after forking, the flow rate is much improved.

The above method allows me to press with far less pressure.

Here is a shot of a grape forking....

IMG_20150926_141003_152.jpg
 

Johnd

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Perhaps you are applying too much pressure?

Here is what I do...

I Add pressure slowly and in stages. I apply just enough pressure to get the wine to flow, then wait and apply more pressure only when the flow drops to just a trickle.

When I reach the point where applying pressure does not seem to do much good, I back off all pressure and give the skins a good "forking". I made a press fork in blacksmithing class to break up and loosen the cake.

When I reapply pressure after forking, the flow rate is much improved.

The above method allows me to press with far less pressure.

Here is a shot of a grape forking....
John, I think my challenge starts a little sooner than the point of applying pressure. The stainless basket with holes doesn't have near the free area that the wooden basket presses do. It just doesn't seem to allow the wine out nearly quickly enough.

After all of the wine has been removed from the fermenter and I scoop / dump the slurry of wine and skins to the basket, it drains for a short period of time, then stops. Seems as though the holes get clogged more easily, and the material in the basket remains a sloppy mess, which you can't press, it comes out around the press plate, it's just too flowable. A few rounds of scraping the sides of the basket and mixing it all up again eventually produces a pressable batch. Once I get it to the point where it's more solid than liquid, I begin pressing, much like you do, small increases in pressure until the flow slows to near nothing. I also bust the cake up and press again (BTW, I use one of my fireplace tools), which yields a pretty fair amount of wine.

The extra work prior to pressing doubles my pressing time from where I think it should be. Last night, I ordered the wooden press basket for my press, so when I do my Spanish grapes in a month or so, it will be pretty evident to see the difference.
 

salcoco

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I have used a wooden basket press that required hand operation and a bladder press that had a stainless basket. both befitted using a nylon screen on the interior of the basket. You can purchase the nylon interior bag from the same place you purchased the press from. speed of pressing does make a difference. slow and steady is the best.
 

JohnT

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I see what you are saying. I am glad that I have always used wooden presses.
 

JohnT

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Here is something that you can try..

After crushing/de-stemming your grapes, save some of the stems.

When you load your press, alternate between a layer of grapes and layer of stems. The stems will provide a channel in which the juice can flow. This may help.

The down side here is that you are exposing your grapes to the tannins in the stems, but this is a very limited exposure and I do not think it will make much of a difference.
 

Johnd

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Here is something that you can try..

After crushing/de-stemming your grapes, save some of the stems.

When you load your press, alternate between a layer of grapes and layer of stems. The stems will provide a channel in which the juice can flow. This may help.

The down side here is that you are exposing your grapes to the tannins in the stems, but this is a very limited exposure and I do not think it will make much of a difference.
So that's kind of like using the rice hulls to provide some free space inside the cake creating pathways for the liquid to flow. Sounds like a good idea John, I just don't have the stems to be able to do that since I am using frozen must, which has already been crushed and destemmed!!

The new wooden basket is due here today, so hopefully that will improve my productivity.............
 

JohnT

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So that's kind of like using the rice hulls to provide some free space inside the cake creating pathways for the liquid to flow. Sounds like a good idea John, I just don't have the stems to be able to do that since I am using frozen must, which has already been crushed and destemmed!!

The new wooden basket is due here today, so hopefully that will improve my productivity.............
Sorry, forgot you were using frozen must.
 

Johnd

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Back from the forest, looks like I'll get to try out the new wooden press basket, it's time to press the Bravado. It's been fermenting for about a week on the skins from two 6 gallon batches of Lanza PS and Merlot grape wines.

EDIT:
Ok, now that the pressing is over, I can definitively say that the wooden basket was much more efficient in my process. While I'm sure tat the stainless baskets have their advantages and uses, it's wooden for me from now on. Once the skins / slurry was scooped and added to the press, the juice drained away much quicker and more freely, and the actual pressing was much quicker as well.
 
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Boyd

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pressing grapes

I started making wine about ten years or so ago when I picked a bunch of wild grapes and decided I didn't want to make grape jelly.

As it looked like a very large pain in the *** to remove the berries from the stems I crushed them on the stems and fermented them for four days and then pressed and fermented to completion.

The wine turned out very good and I have been making it the same way since.

Good or bad is not my opinion as I don't drink much alcohol as if seems to bring on as session of talking to RAAAAAALF on the big white telephone. Don't like talking to him very much.


It is the opinion of a number of people that are wine drinkers.

I have a number of hybrid vines I use for grape wine I use to make grape wine now and do it the same way.
 
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