This season seems to be weirdly accelerated. After an unusually cool spring and summer, we had a blast of heat, then a threatened early rainy season. That got us bringing in most of the varietals from the field nearly a month before we usually do. But with our new set-up, it wasn’t a problem. In past years, Andy, Cousin John and I have struggled to get one varietal in, crushed and in primary fermentation. Typically, we’d collapse, but would have at least a week to recover before the next varietal came ripe. This year we crushed and processed three varietals in a less than 24 hour period, including the Cabernet which accounts for more than half our vineyard. Give the credit to the new crusher/destemmer and the new stainless steel fermentation tanks, a set-up that replaces brute force and ignorance with hoses and pumps.

Now it seems, our upgraded crushing facilities are going to make the transition from primary fermentation to secondary fermentation just as easy. With Cousin John off in England, Andy and I had to handle the pressing and transfer of the Grenache on our own. It went down as smoothly as a nice…well, a nice glass of Grenache.

steel fermentation tanks

Instead of the old plastic fermentation bins, we have this gleaming row of stainless steel fermentation vats. Pay attention to those spigots and valves at the bottom. They'll be key to this process.

cleaning the crush pad

Of course, what doesn't change is the controlled chaos of cleaning and sterilizing every single piece of equipment prior to the press.

pumps and hoses on the crushpad

Then out come the pumps and hoses. Did I mention that this is all done with pumps and hoses?

So we pump most of the liquid out of the primary fermentation tank and into the press.

skins in the primary fermentation tank

That still leaves us with some heavy lifting as we pull out the remaining skins into bins then heft those bins into the press.

Skins and juice are hosed or hauled into the press, the lid is screwed on and a giant balloon is inflated inside which presses the grapes and skins against the perforated sides of the press.

It all pours through into that little holding tank, which is hooked up to another pump and hose system.

In Dr. Frankenwine's Lab

From that little holding tank under the press, that hose snakes into the building we call Dr. Frankenwine's Lab and into the secondary fermentation tank.

cleaning the crush pad

Then Hey Presto! It's all over but the clean-up.