This past Thursday morning, Clyde and our neighbor Daryl headed up to Gerald, MO at 5am to pick up a load of Vidal grapes. They hauled 7.5 tons of fruit back to the winery by 9:30am, and we spent the day processing the grapes into juice.
The guys had to deal with a flat tire on the way home, but fortunately Daryl had a spare tire and knew just how to handle a loaded trailer. Once they arrived back at the winery, Clyde unloaded the trailer right away so that Daryl could move on to other things.
Then we took each bin up to the ‘crush pad’. The bins go waaay up in the air on the ‘bin dumper’ which tilts the bins upside down. The grapes then fall into the de-stemmer/crusher where the stems are removed and the berries are crushed open.
Once the grapes are crushed, they are pumped into the press. The picture above shows the inside of the press while we are filling it. The grapes are pretty juicy at this stage and a lot of juice is flowing out of the berries naturally. This juice is called the ‘free run’ juice and is usually considered the higher quality juice.
Once the press is filled with grapes, we close it up and turn it on. Then the juice is squeezed out and runs into that collection pan that sits below the press. This juice is called the ‘press fraction’ and due to harsher handling, it’s considered a bit lower quality juice. Both the free run and the press fraction are pumped down into the cellar where Clyde will filter and inoculate the juice with yeast. We finished pressing out all the juice around 5pm and were pretty tired so we left the bulk of the cleanup for the next day.
I hope you enjoyed that peek at our day of processing grapes here at Peaceful Bend. Cheers!