Anyone remember Rube Goldberg, the Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist known for his incredibly convoluted “inventions” to perform simple tasks? The one at left is a perfect example: a complex system involving pulleys, levers, a rock, a mousetrap and bird allow a man to put toothpaste on his toothbrush. If you’ve ever played Mousetrap, which was inspired by Rube Goldberg, you get the idea. If you’ve watched the crazy inventions of Wallace in the Wallace and Grommit claymation movies, you should know where the inspiration came from.
That’s a long set-up to tell you that Rube Goldberg would be proud of our crushpad. In fact, one might conclude that Rube Goldberg is the Patron Saint of our crushpad. I couldn’t even begin to diagram the convoluted system we have set up to allow two people and two terriers to process upwards of 3/4 tons of grapes alone. You’ll have to get the picture from the pictures.
It starts here with grape varietals resting in individual primary fermentation vats out on the crushpad.
Then we stick a huge tube into the slurry. That tube is connected to a large portable pump.
The slurry is pumped through another hose that spews it into the “bladder press” (partial view shown here). First step is to fill this press up to the top with grape juice and skins.
Now Andy turns the bladder press water pressure pump up to ELEVEN. Water is pumped into a huge balloon (think heavy guage airplane tire) that presses the skins into the sides of this perforated metal “skin” and allows the juice to run out into the try in the previous picture.
Now the skins and seeds are trapped inside the bladder press and only the juice is running out into that wheeled tray. Notice the smaller hose leading from that small tray to the foreground.
Now that smaller hose full of juice snakes across the entire length of the crushpad and into the Secondary Fermentation Shed and to a steel fermentation tank.
Now this is where that woodworking class Andy took in Sixth Grade really pays off, because he built this wood and clamp thingy that frees us from the need to have a third person holding the hose steady as gallons of young wine course through.
Since 3/4 ton of grapes have to be processed in batches. So at some point, we have to empty the water out of the bladder, depressing it so we can scrape out the pressed skins. That’s where a terrier comes in handy.
So now we pull out the pressed skins which are almost the consistency of a ten year old Christmas fruitcake.
We’re still trying to get this guy worked into the process. Not sure how, but Rube Goldberg would have found a way!
We haven’t yet worked an alternate terrier into this part of the workflow. Especially since grapes can be toxic to some dogs. But apparently not ours, although Lucy is no Grenache fan.
In fact, one terrier’s opinion: “This crap SUCKS!”
Although Andy has a different opinion. He’s very excited by the bold fruit flavors in all three varietals, even though they aren’t through secondary fermentation and are still a bit “yeasty”.
So that’s the path our Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvedre have taken. They’re now put to bed in steel fermentation tanks for a long secondary fermentation. A few rackings (to get rid of dead yeast sediment) and they’ll go in to oak barrels.
Meanwhile, we’ve got a whole field of Cabernet on the vine just waiting to be picked. And now that you’ve seen the Rube Goldberg Memorial Wine Processing System, you’ll all be rushing to help. Right?