Jesus and Juan harvest the Cinsault.If you’ve read much of this site, you’ve heard me say that winemaking is about 90% farming and maybe 10% art and science. Let me amend that. Let’s say 70% of it is farming, 5% is art and science. The rest, my friends, is heavy lifting. You think I’m exaggerating? Let me walk you through it. Sure there are those wonderful crews who come in and harvest the grapes. Doesn’t seem like much, does it? How much do grapes weigh. Try two tons. Not tons as in, “These books weigh a ton”. I mean an actual measurable two tons. Observe. See those big off-white bins in the background of the picture below? Each of them will hold half a ton of picked grapes or a ton of crushed grapes.

So those grapes that the crews picked? Cousin John and I stand at the top of the crush pad and throw them into the crusher/destemmer as shown here.

Then, Andy dumps those crushed grapes, bin by bin, into those large white bins for primary fermentation. Since we filled two of those bins, we know we processed two tons.

Now let’s step back and think about this. The crews picked two tons of grapes. Then Cousin John and I threw them, handful by handful, from the top of the crushpad into the crusher/destemmer. So the two of us effectively hefted two tons of grapes AGAIN. Then Andy, who was hefting and throwing, bin by bin, the crushed destemmed grapes into the primary fermentation bins — well, he hefted two tons of grapes AGAIN. So between all of us, we’ve just lifted two tons of grapes three times. And, folks, this is just primary fermentation.

one ton of grapes

Let's review: one ton of picked grapes fill two white bins, crushed they fill one white bin. We filled two bins of crushed grapes. Two tons of grapes. Quantified!

Once the primary fermentation is done, we’ve got to get those grapes into the wine press and out into secondary fermentation tanks. If you’ll remember from this post, some of this is done with our Wine Boffin’s intricate hose and pump system. This Rube Goldberg/MacGuvyer assembly lets us suck out the juice, but we still have to contend with the skins which are too heavy for our pumps to move.

pressing the grenache

You guessed it. Out come the shovels and the bins and we heft those skins into the press. Which can get really interesting when you are doing it at night.

So let’s be conservative and assume the hoses and pumps, which can suck out the juice, take out half the volume of our two tons of grapes. That still leaves us hefting one ton of skins into the press.

I think I’ll stop there and not even go into the details about humping those pressed skins up to the compost pile after the pressing is done. Or moving equipment to and fro. I think you believe me now that winemaking is not for sissies in berets whose constitutions are as delicate as their palates.

I’m proposing that we change our metaphors for tough guys. Drop “gangster” or “cowboy” from your vocabulary. Next time you see someone who looks as if he could lift a Ford V-8 big block engine over his head, say, “Wow! He’s a real winemaker!”

'Cause you don't want to be messin' with someone who picks grapes. Even if he's a terrier!

Note: If you’ve read yesterday’s post about how our beloved Boffin is not pulling his weight, you’ll see I kid him…with love. He certainly has been hefting his share, as well as doing the heavy intellectual lifting.