A (Wine) Homecoming Part 2: A Photojourney of the Press

In part 2 of writing about my daughter’s homecoming, I present here a photojourney to show you what it means to press your grapes (or other fruit) to make wine. To remind you of the stages in winemaking, see here. The press happens after the crush and initial fermentation. For this press of Zinfandel and small amount of Petite Syrah, I pursued “whole-berry fermentation.”

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Whole-berry fermentation means we destemmed the grapes but did not crush most of them prior to placing them in the fermentation bucket; this winemaking technique is called carbonic maceration. Fermenting uncrushed grapes means that the yeast converts the sugars of the grape juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide while the juice is still inside the grapes’ skins, creating a carbon dioxide rich environment with very little oxygen. Carbonic maceration tends to produce a fruitier, lower-tannin wine than the fermentation resulting from crushed grapes. Now that primary fermentation is mostly complete, its time for pressing!

(Follow the photos and read the caption to view a narrative.)

Then…

And finally, let’s taste this new wine! Very fruity and still rather sweet, which informs us that when we pressed these grapes residual sugars inside the skins were released. This residual sugar now provides additional food for the hungry yeast. Fermentation of this remaining sugar will now occur in the carboys and will increase the alcohol content of the wine a bit more.This secondary fermentation will be completed in about one to three weeks, depending on the health of the yeast and the temperature of the wine.

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