As I mentioned in my last blog entry, Andrew’s Legacy is participating in Sannino’s Bella Vita Vineyard custom winemaking program. We have joined with Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast and Harbor Knoll Bed and Breakfast to create or own wines with the help of the Sanninos, Anthony and Lisa.
On Saturday afternoon, Oct. 23, 2010, we participated in the third part of the experience, pressing the grapes. I have not mentioned the second part, which was when the grapes we picked were taken from Sannino’s vineyards to Ackerly Pond in Peconic, where the Sannino’s Bella Vita Vineyards share the processing facilities. Here the grapes were destemmed and crushed by a special machine. (This is the part everyone identifies with the “I Love Lucy” episode.)
The crushed pulp is shot into large bins where they begin the first stage of the fermentation process.
In the 12 days that have past, the grapes have been fermenting under the watchful eyes of Anthony and Lisa. They have been checking temperatures, sugar levels and adding specials yeasts and bacteria that aid the fermentation process and give the vintner more control of the outcome.
I met my friend Marilyn Marks of Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast there for the press. She is also writing a blog on the process and she goes into much more technical detail than I do, so if you are interested, I would recommend you read her blog.
When we go there we started siphoning off some of the murky liquid, which is actually wine at this point, although very cloudy with sediment. Anthony encouraged us to taste it at every step and it was very good! (A far cry from what tasted much like grape juice only 12 days ago.) Once the vat was reduced by about a third we started loading it into the press. We initially scooped it in with buckets, and when the vat became manageable, it was lifted up and the remainder poured into the press. Members took turns evening out the pile of crushed grapes in the press as more and more was loaded in. The pressure of the bulk of the crushed grapes caused the liquid to start to run off and it was siphoned into holding tanks where the sediment would settle to the bottom.
Once the press was filled the top was sealed. This press works on hydraulic pressure. A bladder in the center of the press is filled with water. As the bladder fills it pushes the crushed grapes towards the wall, which is wooden slates held in place by metal collars. As the pressure builds, more and more liquid is forced out through the walls and collected in a trough at the base.
The wine we were making is a Cabernet Franc and once it is finished processing in the holding tanks some of it will go to the oak barrels for aging and some of it will be ready for bottling.
This is the machine that destems and crushes the grapes. (So Lucy doesn’t have to)
The stainless steel containers in the background hold white wine, the red is in vats under the plastic tarps in the front. White ferments in sealed canisters like the ones in the picture. Red must ferment in the open air.
I had to show the beautiful color and texture of the crushed grapes in the vat.
Everyone is put to work transferring the crushed grapes from the vats to the press.
As the bladder fills with water in the press, Anthony takes an opportunity to explain what he has been doing to the grapes over the past 12 days, such as adding yeasts and bacteria that do things like enhance fermentation and coloration.