The moment of pressing is an important moment of pause. The life of the grape in the vineyard, with its risks and dangers, has finally ended, while the life of the wine begins in a safe and protected space, made of darkness, silence and time. The emotions of this new metamorphosis rarely have the space to be expressed, because the harvest puts immense pressure on the wine growers, but each year it is impossible not to feel that something magical and inexplicable is renewed – so much so that it is the very symbol of transubstantiation. As you empty the crate into the machines in which blades and cylinders turn, you make the last gestures of care and attention toward the grapes, removing an unripened bunch or a leaf trapped among the fruit.
claudia e eraldo revelli AZIENDA revelli
Once they are harvested, the grapes must be pressed in order to crush the berries and cause the juice to escape. In this process, the grapes are separated from the stems, which could leave tannins as well as vegetal and unripe aromas in the most. The grapes are gently crushed to avoid oxidation and crumbling of the skins, which contain the anthocyanins and poliphenols that are essential for a serious red wine. The most is transported into the tank through a pump, or, more rarely, by spilling it out. Often the crusher-stemmers are small because they are proportionate to the size of the vineyard and to the hundreds of kilos per hour that can be harvested and vinified. You approach with the tractor bed to be able to overturn it from above, avoiding unloading the boxes and then lifting them off the ground, and you save energy for the next turn.
fedErica e massimo abbona AZIENDA la fusina
Not all the grape crushers are small like those at family wineries. We also have the grape crushers and presses built to collect the large quantities tied to cooperative contribution. They need to have the capacity to quickly crush and stem large quantities of grapes to get through the line of contributing members that starts forming early in the morning. Each with his own vehicle, commensurate with the size and importance that the vineyard has in his life and his work: a small flippable trailer or a grape wagon with a conveyor that leads into the crusher; a van with a few red crates, or a rotary cultivator that in its wake already leaves a trail of must. You feel small next to these machines, but one member’s basket after another, the tanks are filled, even with the contributions of those who have just a small vineyard.
cantina di clavesana
The stems that are separated from the grapes leave the press forming piles that are likely to pack the exit. You have to be ready to grap the pitchfork to move them. They will then be loaded onto the trailer to be taken to a place where they can be composted and disposed of in the vineyard.In the past, when there were no crusher-destemmers available, the stems remained in contact with the must, and this allowed for a greater clarification of the wine and a greater ease in racking as they created a lattice that served almost as a filter. Recently, some winemakers have continued the practice of keeping the stems in the must, but it requires attention because every variety has its own characteristics, and a technique that is useful with one grape might not be for another.
ATTILIO PECCHENINO AZIENDA pecchenino
At the time of pressing there are important decisions to be made that will influence the course of the fermentation and of its consequences. You can decide whether or not to use the rollers to press, or if you prefer only the stroke of the blade that separates the stalk from the grape. You can think about leaving a part of the grapes whole, that will start a fermentation inside them and that will free the must only at the time of pressing, keeping the peel intact, or you can press and start the fermentation, and then add whole grapes. You can also completely eliminate the stems or leave a small percentage. All of these decisions are made by evaluating the results from the previous year, making adjustments according to the differences you hope to see in the vintage you have in your hands – and then quickly moving on because in the vineyard the empty crates are waiting.
federico e lorenzo schellino AZIENDA annamaria abbona