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using a press with grapes

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Mdrew

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Wondering what steps folks use when they utilize a press in their wine process. I've got backyard grapes, the last couple batches have come out pretty tart and fermenty smelling. My local guy suggested I ferment without the skins on, aka press them before hand. I had frozen them before, where I could pretty much squeeze cheesecloth bags and it would dejuice them. Recently got a press thinking I could skip the freezing process. I got only about half the amount of juice I think I should've gotten. Some of the grapes in the middle weren't crushed at all. I tried it with cheesecloth bags and without. Little grapes were exploding out the slats! Pretty fun; but not the thing I was hoping for.

Home Wine Making Channel guy
suggests doing a press when I'm half way through the primary ferment. That's not a bad idea.

Usually I manually pick the grapes off the stem with the help of some neighbors.

Here's the type of press I'm using:
red-weston-food-mills-05-0101-64_1000.jpg

Looking for any suggestions so I can use this big new press! Thanks!
 

Ajmassa

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Nice purchase !
After 5 days he was likely through the majority of his fermentation before pressing. And very close to 1.000.
It’s red grapes right? Crushing em 1st then Ferment the whole time with the skins is the typical way. That’s where all the goodness is coming from!
I basically have been doing what was on the video. Just not so small. Pressing at the End of fermentation (a week or so). The smaller amount on the video it’s easier to just dump it all through I guess.
I’ve been transferring out as much free wine as possible beforehand using a strainer and then pressing remainder. And sticking a metal basket strainer on top of the receiving bucket for the solids that make it thru.
 

NorCal

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The must is probably begging for nutrients, as evidenced by the smelly ferment, did you add FermK? Unless the grapes were really bad quality, or the resulting wine will be really tannic, I don't see the benefit of pressing real early (assuming you solve your bad ferment). What brix level did you end pressing at? Did it go dry after?

The basic process is destemming/crush, 50 ppm SO2 for 24 hours to kill bacteria/wild yeast, adjust sugar / acid, add yeast, add nutrient @ sign of ferment, monitor brix, punch down, add nutrient @ 1/3 completion, press when fermentation is completed. Alcohol is a good solvent, which will extract the color and tannin from the skins. You don't want to shortchange skin contact time by pressing early unless there is a problem. I would argue the point that the best wine is the free run. I've kept them separate a number of times and each time I've concluded that the most balanced and best wine, was the combination of the free run and the pressed wine. I'm sure that would depend on the grapes

I like that mini press, I think that is a great solution for small batch. I'd like to have one.
 

jgmillr1

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I've got backyard grapes, the last couple batches have come out pretty tart and fermenty smelling
Any idea of what grape varietal they may be? Or if you don't know, then where are they being grown (Minnesota grows a bit different grape than Cali)?

Some of the grapes in the middle weren't crushed at all. I tried it with cheesecloth bags and without. Little grapes were exploding out the slats!
This is a typically an issue with insufficient crush that does not break the skins of the grapes.

I don't see the benefit of pressing real early
Come visit the mid-west and experience Marechal Foch that has been skin fermented for more than 4 days! At 2 days you get a light-bodied, peppery wine resembling a Pinot Noir with actual color or a peppery Tempranillo. At 4 days you get some noticeable vegetal (not bell pepper, mind you) and herbacious notes. At 7 days on the skins, you are sucking tannin & herbs and looking for something to blend it down with when it's done barrel aging the next year.
 

Mdrew

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I don't have an easy way to crush these grapes. It sure would be great if I could get them destemmed an crushed! But I don't have that tool at the moment. I'll keep an eye out for sure.

@Ajmassa5983 I'm also not sure what kind of grapes these are. I think they're certainly some sort of champagne grape, or white grape. They definitely aren't dark colored, and this year I let them ripen to almost raisins.

@NorCal I like the suggestion of Fermaid K addition. When during the process would I add Fermaid K vs "yeast nutrient?"

@jgmillr1 woah, If I let the ferment go 3-12 days, it will change the flavor a bunch? This time I've got two buckets going, about 7 gallons each primary fermenters. I was thinking of letting the primary fermentation go a whole 14 days: but that might screw it up? Err, make it so I'm "sucking tannin & herbs?"
MVIMG_20181029_202515.jpg
 

NorCal

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@NorCal I like the suggestion of Fermaid K addition. When during the process would I add Fermaid K vs "yeast nutrient?"

View attachment 51981
I use two products to assure a complete ferment. GoFerm is a product used when the yeast is hydrated and FermK. 1/2 the dose of FermK is used at the first sign of fermentation, the other half when the brix have dropped by 1/3.
 

balatonwine

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I don't have an easy way to crush these grapes. It sure would be great if I could get them destemmed an crushed! But I don't have that tool at the moment. I'll keep an eye out for sure.
Without crushing, you are doing basically a "whole cluster press" (but you de-stemmed them -- which is not really need, or actually ideal, if using a basket press). Most commercial basket presses are the wrong tool for doing this. They are too narrow and tall. Short, very wide, presses are what is needed in order to break the berries during pressing (or modern tools such as continual pressing). Else, you usually get what you got -- a lot of uncrushed berries. You can crush and press in your press if you do many separate layers of pressing, adding layers as you go, maybe dismantling and fluffing the grapes now and then as well as you progress.

Also, with a basket press, if these are white grapes, leave in some stems. Helps to drain off the juice and may facilitate more berry crushing. If you get grapes getting squeezed out the basket, you may be pressing too hard (pressing harder probably will not crush more berries, but may break seeds which you don't want to do).

Or you can just hand crush the grapes. Or stomp on them as a centuries old method. Personally, I suggest a modern addition of using sanitized plastic boots exclusively used for this purpose and which never touch the ground -- put them on in the stomping bin. Many reasons I suggest this, such as avoids getting stung by any wasps hidden in the clusters, as these guys mentioned:


But if you rather do it bare footed.... at least try to get a friend to help. :)



I think they're certainly some sort of champagne grape, or white grape. They definitely aren't dark colored
I think a photo of your grapes may help, because a "champagne grape" is actually a common name of corinth grapes. And grapes that make champagne are different, and actually are both red grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, or white like Chardonnay.


and this year I let them ripen to almost raisins.
That may explain also why you got less juice.

woah, If I let the ferment go 3-12 days, it will change the flavor a bunch? This time I've got two buckets going, about 7 gallons each primary fermenters. I was thinking of letting the primary fermentation go a whole 14 days: but that might screw it up? Err, make it so I'm "sucking tannin & herbs?"
If these are white grapes, you do not ferment on the skin (and almost certainly not the stems). Unless you want to make an amber wine (which if done wrong, can smell bad).

And without skins (and stems), there is no worry about getting extra tannin or herbaceous issues. However, if left to sit on the lees post fermentation too long, that can cause other problems.

And "time" is not really relevant. Time to complete a fermentation can vary a lot. Fermentation progress should be checked with a hydrometer (relatively cheap to buy).
 
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JohnT

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I do Whole cluster press for my whites.
I just toss them in stems and all and gently apply pressure .
Resist the urge to apply a lot of pressure . Just remember, that over pressure and time jems are made.
 

Mdrew

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@balatonwine thanks for the detailed response! It's really helpful.
I like the idea of adding more layers of wood between sections of grapes. I think that will increase the area, and crush more grapes.

As for identification, I have been doing research to figure out what type of grapes I'm working with, but haven't been able to conclude it's one or the other. The closest I've gotten is probably over at this other thread on these forums. That same thread suggested gwertraminer, Catawba, and concord.

I'll be doing this next batch with skins and some stems, in the primary fermenter. I'm planning on adding GoFerm, and FermK part way through like @NorCal suggested.

@JohnT awesome, that's about where I'm at, although it won't be this season. Do you have a similar press to me? Do you use wood separators in the stack? How many inches between the separators does it start/end with?

So, hopefully that GoFerm will encourage a full fermentation that doesn't end up with a tart/aggressive fermenty smell at the end. We'll see. Next year, I'll plan on doing a squeeze beforehand. Perhaps I can source some white grapes between now and then to dial in that physical process.

Thanks again for all the feedback all!
 

VillaVino

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Wondering what steps folks use when they utilize a press in their wine process. I've got backyard grapes, the last couple batches have come out pretty tart and fermenty smelling. My local guy suggested I ferment without the skins on, aka press them before hand. I had frozen them before, where I could pretty much squeeze cheesecloth bags and it would dejuice them. Recently got a press thinking I could skip the freezing process. I got only about half the amount of juice I think I should've gotten. Some of the grapes in the middle weren't crushed at all. I tried it with cheesecloth bags and without. Little grapes were exploding out the slats! Pretty fun; but not the thing I was hoping for.

Home Wine Making Channel guy
suggests doing a press when I'm half way through the primary ferment. That's not a bad idea.

Usually I manually pick the grapes off the stem with the help of some neighbors.

Here's the type of press I'm using:
View attachment 51942

Looking for any suggestions so I can use this big new press! Thanks!

Are you using a cheesecloth straining bag in the press? I found that using a straining bag helps with grapes popping out the slats. Also, if you have a white grape, you probably don’t want to ferment them on the skins too long. Get as much juice by pressing the grape and put the juice in your carboy as your primary fermentor. So here is what I used to do before my crusher/destemmer and bladder press days.
Pick white grape, destem, try to crush grape in a big plastic bucket fermentor, scoop crushed grape into a straining bag inside the slat ratchet press, fill only half full, pour any juice into staining bag, press, collect juice from press, put metal strainer under slat press to catch any chunks of grapes, readjust the presses cake and press again if you need more juice. From here, it’s all how you work the pH, Camden tablets and brix readings. It’s worked for me.
 

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