Making homemade wine using homemade wine press – that is the name of this story.
A few years ago (7 years to be precise), I planted a number of red Muscat cuttings that were taken from my parents’ residence. Fast forward to 2016, these plants have endured the 2011 floods, the 2014 major hail storm, Indian Myna bird attacks and a number of dry seasons. I built a trellis so the vines could grow and provide much needed shade. I also added a number of other varietals including Muscat Gordo Blanco, Ribier, Shiraz, Flame grape, and Globe Grape. The only crop that has really been fruitful is the original Muscat. Maybe the other plants are too young to bear fruit, but I will give them a good trim this winter to encourage further growth.
I picked 100 litres of Muscat grapes this season, and put them in two 60ltr vats and let them ferment for 10 days. The ultimate objective is to make homemade wine so I had to make sure that temperature and fermentation speed was closely watched.
I also bought a French Oak Barrel made from French “full grown oak” timber – the oak gives colour, flavour, tannin profiles and texture to the wine as it ages. I know it’s the real deal because it has this stamp:
I also built a wine press from scratch, and saved myself over AU$700 in the process. The base was made of concrete which I poured into a 44 gallon drum. I used an old Acrow Prop to make the threaded shaft, and a Stainless Steel hollow bar as the spout for where the wine comes out of when pressed. It needs some legs and a ratchet mechanism which I will be preparing before next year’s harvest…
The timber staves are made out of Merbau screening timber, and I used 40mm x 3mm galvanised flat bar for the frame structure. The gap between the staves is very important – if the gaps are too tight you will have difficulty pressing out the must, and if they are too far apart, the pomace will ooze out the sides of your homemade winepress. M6 cup-head bolts were used to hold everything together. The homemade wine press worked like a charm and we were able to squeeze out approximately 75 litres of burgundy gold (this left us with roughly 40 litres of pomace).
The process of making homemade wine is quite simple, and you don’t need a lot of fancy machinery if you’re doing this at home. The grapes already have the sugar and yeast that you need for fermentation to take place. It does make the job easier if you have some “machinery” and measuring instruments, but it’s not primordial. I have to say that this was a lot of fun, and I’ll be doing it again next year – I also feel a great sense of pride in continuing an old family tradition. I’ll provide an update once I have tasted the wine in a few months – hopefully it doesn’t turn to vinegar!