On the 1st of September 2018 we had our Grape Harvest (Vendimia) at Finca del Rio – La Vina de la Iglesia.
After the grapes are picked, usually starting at 6am, they are brought to tables to be sorted. We remove green grapes, split grapes and any grapes that show signs of powdery mildew. Although we do cut any mildewed grapes off before the harvest, as much as possilbe and discard away from the vineyard. All the work is done by hand, except the de-stemming.
After sorting of the grapes. They are put into a de-stemmer machine. This removes the grapes and juice from their stalks using an archimedes screw at the top of the machine which leads the grapes onto grooved flexible rollers and then into a revolving drum with cut-out holes and paddles inside the machine.
The stalks are collected from the machine, then later are put back onto the vineyard as compost.
The grape juice is transferred from the de-stemmer machine using plastic buckets into a large tank. Fermentation takes place almost immediately. No sugar is added and the vineyards own natural yeast is left to combine with the sugars in the grapes. The tank is covered with a muslin cloth to stop fruit flies from spoiling the fermenting grape juice, but still allows a good flow of air across the top of the must.
The fermentation ‘cap’ is pushed down, also called ‘punching down’, so that the skins of the grapes add colour and flavour during maceration (skin contact) and do not dry out.
The syrah tank during punch down and maceration.
The tempranillo tank during punch down and maceration.
To control the temperature of the fermentation, bottles of ice are used to cool the grape juice. These are replaced at intervals.
After the harvest the de-stemmer machine is thoroughly cleaned for use next year. The revolving cylinder with punched out holes can be clearly seen. These holes effectively cause the de-stemming by tearing the stems from the grapes as they revolve around.
So now we wait for the fermentation to stop before the next stage which is to seperate the juice from the skins and seeds and to place the juice, now wine, into stainless steel tanks.