To the Press!

On August 19th, it was time to press the juice off the skins. With a high of 99 degrees and low of 81 degrees in Houston, it had to be done indoors. I watched this video of people pressing in Italy — and boy was I jealous! But, I had a press. I had my fermented must. The next step was pressing and trying not to destroy the home office.

Setup for Pressing
Trying to NOT Destroy the Office

After spending 1.5 hours sanitizing everything, help arrived (my husband and mother-in-law) and pressing commenced!

The first step — simply take the must and put it into the press.

Must into the Press

The juice that flows before pressing is called the free-run juice. To help the juice flow and to reduce splatter, I used rice hulls (thank you Mr. B for the tip!).

Once the flow slows to a near halt, it is time to add the blocks to the press. By the way, several types of presses exist. I used a traditional basket press, the oldest known mechanical press.

After cranking for a while, the resistance started to increase. But, there was still juice trapped in the center of the pomace. To get this remaining juice to flow, I had to dive in…

After mushing things around with my bare hands, juice started flowing again. I cranked and cranked, but I was careful not to over-press (or else seeds could be crushed, releasing bitter compounds). Using my bare hands was possibly a bad choice — my hands were stained for an entire week!

In all, pressing took over four hours with all the cleaning. But, I loved the process, stained hands and all! It was so satisfying to actually have wine. Pressed wine! Yehaw!

The Aftermath

Here is a summary video of the process!…

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