The Cellar Team focuses on processing fruit for fermentations that will follow. When we are making a white or rosé wine, we destem and crush the grapes and then pump them into the press where the skins and seeds are separated from the juice. The juice is pumped directly into the tank in which it will be fermented while the skins and seeds will be moved to the mulch pile, dried, and spread sometime next spring in the field where we have soybeans planted.
When we make a red wine, we pump the juice with the skins and seeds to the tanks for fermentation. We need to have the skins present for as long as possible because that is where the color and flavors are. After the alcoholic fermentation is finished, we will press the wine off the skins and seeds and then let the malolactic conversion finish.
Each press cycle takes about two hours and 15 minutes to load the press, press the fruit, and remove the skins and seeds from the press. Then, we start over and process the next batch. Each batch is about 3.5 tons of fruit making 500–600 gallons of juice or wine.