We hauled the equipment to the crush pad at 6:00: bin rack, hopper, sorting table, elevator, de-stemmer, and must pump. We washed everything with the power washer and some ozonated water, which is a great sanitizer, and proceeded to sort and de-stem 8 overflowing bins of fruit.
|Zinfandel clusters. 10% - 15% raisins is quite normal for Zinfandel, and this is |
high-quality fruit from Paso Robles on the Central Coast
|Elevator and de-stemming machine. The must pump (connected to the hose) collects |
the berries & juice and pumps the must into the fermentation tanks in the building
Each bin is sequentially loaded onto the bin rack, which has a motorized mechanism that tips the bin and dumps the grape clusters into a hopper. The hopper then dispenses the clusters onto a sorting table (a long conveyor belt that moves the fruit toward the elevator) and workers sort the clusters. We remove leaves, spiders, earwigs, red berries (not ripe enough) and second-growth clusters. Occasionally, some clusters have some rot and they're discarded.
The elevator then carries the fruit that passed inspection into the de-stemming machine. Here's where things get interesting: Different winemakers use different techniques, and our guy does not crush the fruit in this step of the process. About 25% of the berries are crushed during de-stemming and pumping, but the remaining 75% of the berries are simply pumped (intact) into the fermentation tanks. They'll break down during fermentation, but they're not crushed by a mechanized process.
|Must. This is a mixture of crushed berries, intact berries, and juice. |
It's put into fermentation tanks or bins
|Stems. This stuff goes into the garbage|