After volunteers and the Fence Stile team complete the morning grape harvest, what happens next?
[Sign up to volunteer to harvest grapes on Sundays during September by emailing email@example.com. View a gallery of photos during harvest.]
Once grapes are picked and placed in five-gallon buckets, the buckets are emptied into a yellow macro-bin that can hold hundreds of pounds of grapes. The bin is transported by a tractor to the crush pad located behind the Tasting Room and wine production facility. The grapes in the bin are weighed to calculate the total tonnage for the day's harvest.
Each bin is then unloaded into a crusher/de-stemmer machine. An auger turns and feeds the grapes into the machine which separates grapes from the stems. The stems are deposited into a tub and then dumped into an empty macro-bin for composting. The grapes are fed into a crusher that mashes them into pulp and juice. This grape mash is pumped through a hose to a press. The press further extracts juice from the grape pulp, separating skins, seeds, and pulp from the juice. The juice is pumped into tanks, where it will be inoculated with yeast after a day or two of settling. The yeast begins the process of feeding on natural sugars in the grapes to begin the fermentation process under the watchful eye of the winemaker.
Grapes harvested by volunteers and the harvest team are transported to the crush pad and crushed as soon as possible to preserve the innate quality of the fruit's aroma, flavor, and physical composition. Harvest volunteers are an essential part of the timely process that transforms grapes from the harvest season into next year's vintage of wine.
Loading grapes from the macro-bin into the crusher/de-stemmer.
An augur turns and feeds the grapes into the crusher/de-stemmer.
Once grapes are removed from the stems, the stems are deposited into a tub that will be emptied into a macro-bin for composting later.
De-stemmed grapes are fed into the crusher to produce a rough mash that breaks up the grapes. The pulp and juice is pumped into another machine that will press the pulp and skins to extract juice.
The grape pulp and skins are pressed. Juice is extracted, collected, and pumped into a tank, where it will undergo the winemaking process. Grapes from this year's harvest will become next year's bottled wine.
Brand and events manager, chef and cellar rat Pete Dulin documents wine, food and operations at Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery through writing and photography.