It’s been a while since our last update, Leah and I have been very busy lately. After 12 days of fermentation, it was time to press the wine on September 24th. I gave very short notice to the group to come over to help, and was able to get a few over. This was GREATLY appreciated. Leah and I really couldn’t have done it without you. I left work a tad early to go to the wine shop to pick up the press, and somehow managed to get it home in my car. I whipped up a quick dinner and people started showing up. For none of us having any experience, or knowing what to do, we quickly settled into a groove. Colin helped siphon the free standing liquid into the kegs to give us less volume to press. He simply separated the liquid from solids with a plastic colander (that eventually broke; next time we should use metal). We did not fill a single keg with all free run. We dispersed it throughout however maybe next year we should record this as it will change the taste from keg to keg. Under the keen supervision of Dasha, Ben did a great job of loading and operating the press while Dasha monitored the runoff and poured it into the kegs using a pitcher. We ratchet down as far as we could. Each batch took about 30 minutes from load to unload. Leah and I bounced around and helped out where needed. And Shae did an awesome job of watching the Giants game and napping afterwards (see below). As any good winemaker would, we all tasted the fruits of our labor (pun intended). The wine tasted young, sweet, fruity, not very alcoholic, and grainy. Its pretty bright red as opposed to deep purple. We did about 6 loads in the press, and everybody left afterwards. Leah and I stayed up quite a bit cleaning the press and other equipment until 1am, and I returned it the following morning. We had a full trash can of discarded grape skins which were quite dry (1/3 the starting volume). That was a lot of work, we were sore for a couple days, and really appreciate the help.
The end result is that we have four 15.5 gallon kegs, two 5 gallon carboys, and a couple other smaller glass bottles … about 72 gallons! I pitched a malolactic culture the subsequent day, and that’s about where we are today. Since there was a variety of sizes the amount per was a little rough. I have made one error thus far, apparently I’ve put in too much SO2 into keg #4. It’s a little chemically tasting now, but that will dissipate in the coming months. I have a very nice machine to help me with doing SO2 titrations, but I just can’t get it give me the reading I want. The next thing to do is to rack the gross lees off in a month, which basically means to siphon off all but the bottom inch or two of liquid and sediment, and discard that. Most of the work is over at this point. Patience is the only thing necessary now; every day the wine is getting better!