Commercial wineries spend thousands of dollars or more in order to produce high quality wines. If it costs that much for commercial wineries to produce a stellar wine, is there any hope for the home winemaker? Can the home winemaker produce a similar high quality wine? The answer is yes! Of course! Making great wine isn’t just for those that can afford to produce thousands of cases of wine. With the right technique, you can produce some stellar wines that could rival the “big boys”!
What are some ways that the home winemaker can do to produce a wine that rivals in quality to the big commercial wineries? There are many things you can do, however, today we will focus on the crushing stage.
Commercial wineries often use very large and expensive pieces of equipment to crush their grapes. Technology has come a long way and there are a lot of crushers out there that delicately crush the grapes and allow commercial wineries to process large amounts of grapes in a relatively short period of time. You can sometimes rent this equipment, so if you have a custom-crush winery or another winery that rents out their equipment, you might want to check with them about costs.
The key to crushing grapes is to be gentle! It doesn’t actually matter what type of equipment you end up using, as long as you are gentle and approach the crushing process in a very delicate manner. Commercial wineries have their equipment set up so that it is gentle enough to remove a certain amount of juice without extracting all the more harsh flavors and aromas by crushing the seeds and stems. A gentle pressing to extract the free flow juice from the grapes will put you on the right track toward making a high-quality wine that is just as delicious as the commercial wines you see at the wine shop.
If you don’t have access to any fancy crushers, what can you do? Well, being a home winemaker, you’re probably better apt to gently crush the grapes than a commercial winery using large mechanized equipment, so don’t give up just yet! You can purchase small-scale crushers and destemmers.
Make sure you thoroughly wash and sterilize the equipment so you don’t introduce any contaminants into your grapes that could ruin your wine. Just be gentle with your crush and you’ll be off on a great start toward making a high quality wine!
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.