You know what sucks? De-stemming grapes. It really, really sucks. After returning from Margaret River with approximately 100kg of wine grapes, I was faced with the task of washing, de-stemming and crushing the grapes.
If you’ve done this by hand before, you’ll understand why winemaking and brewing stores charge a small fortune for the destemming & crushing machines. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’d seriously suggest ransoming your nerves and getting one of these machines, especially if you’re doing a larger quantity than 100kg.
By the time we got the grapes home and inside, unfortunately my developing cold had set in - making this an even more tenuous task. But as I was already worrying about the grapes having been in the back of the car for a few hours without being chilled, I decided to get work underway immediately.
The first two tubs took me around six hours to wash and de-stem, by which time I had realised that the equipment I had for this wine run wasn’t going to be enough. Our estimates of how many grapes would fit the tubs was well off, and due to some confusion over the process (more on this in the next post) the primary vat I had was far too small.
After thoroughly washing and sanitising my feet and toenails, I jumped on into the batch and went nuts on the grapes, getting as much juice out of the grapes as I could. After adding some campden tables to kill off the natural yeasts and organisms that grow on the grapes (and hopefully not, but just in case - my feet too), I was left with about 35L of juice and pulp.
The rest of the grapes were then packed into bags and put into the fridges so I could attack them on the following day - after I had been to my local winemaking store and purchased some larger vessels.
Rinse, wash repeat. After spending another small fortune at the brew store, I spent another eight odd hours doing the remaining three tubs and ending up with about 80-90L of juice and pulp, ready at long last to go to step one of the winemaking process!