Today I stomped grapes for the very first time. We just returned from a trip through the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia’s premier wine region, and Washington state’s Chelan region, so I guess I have wine on my mind.
This morning the sky was a thunderous grey and the weather report said that after more than two months of drought, we would get 2 inches of rain in the next couple of days, so my resident winemaker and I decided to harvest all the rest of our grapes before they split and bacteria got started, and make wine.
We have four different varieties of grapes shading various parts of our property. First to ripen is a delicious, unknown-variety, seedless white, very winy right off the vine. Not knowing we were going to make wine, I gave them all away. (Note to self, next year think ahead.)
Then we have a seedless Rosé variety, also unknown. We got our first crop of them this year, having finally learned how to foil the deer.
Then the tiny Gewerztraminers, also our first, albeit small, crop of real wine grapes. Gewerzt is my favourite white wine, German, spicy, perfect chilled on a summer afternoon. It’ll be years before we get enough (if ever!) to make even a bottle of true Gewertz.
Finally, the amazingly fragrant white Concords, not a well-known wine varietal, primarily used for Welch’s white grape juice, but hey, you work with what you’ve got. And have we ever got a lot of those.
Rosé’s and the Gwertz’s had already been picked so we washed them all together. We don’t spray, but the birds and squirrels had been showing interest, and as well, it flushed out half a dozen earwigs. Then we stemmed them in the kitchen and squashed them in a flat pan with a potato masher, ending up with 2 ½ litres of juice and sore arms. Not a lot, but very tasty.
Then we started on the white Concords that shade our back porch, my summer outdoor writing spot, all summer long. Lately they have been smelling like a heavy sweet perfume every afternoon when the sun hits them, so I knew they were ready.
Much bigger and juicier than the others, there were many more of them. It would have taken too long and too much muscle to mash them by hand, so I decided to do it the old fashioned way. Stomping.
We put them into a plastic wine fermenting tub: they only came up about 8 inches. I had stepped in and grapes popped under my feet.It felt pretty good. They squished between my (clean) toes as I moved around. It was very effective. We’d tried using a juicer once in the past, but you end up pulverizing a lot of the skins and seeds. Stomping releases the juice but leaves the skins almost whole. Perfect. Those Italians really knew what they were doing.
Why “stomping”? I quickly discovered how slippery the whole mess becomes, and could see falling in, like Lucy Ricardo (Amazing how many time in my life I have felt like Lucy!) right into the vat. But if you stomp, up and down, you have more control and don’t end up on your butt in the juice.
How much did it make? We should end up with 8 to 10 bottles.
Was it worth it? I’ll let you know. Anyway, it was a lot of fun on a rainy day.