Once all the pinot noir grapes had arrived at ADEA Wine Company, our processing facility, they joined the syrah grapes in the line waiting to be processed. But first we performed the traditional “blessing” the first grapes of the season.
This is a tradition that goes back to Old Testament times, when grapes typically were the first product of harvest and were highly valued. So valued, they were honored with a formal religious ceremony by the people of that time. Each winery celebrates its first crush in its own way; we celebrated by pouring a bottle of Henke Sparkling Chardonnay over the first grapes to enter the fermenter. We felt this was a very appropriate way to honor Dave’s first professional winemaking mentor, Joe Henke of Henke Winery in Cincinnati.
Here’s the “Stomping” part.
After the blessing, it was time to turn on the heavy equipment! The large slotted plastic bins holding the freshly-harvested grapes are first loaded by a forklift into a hopper, which lifts them up. From the hopper, the clusters are raked gently onto a sorting table. The sorting table is actually long conveyor upon which the grapes ride. As they pass by, several pairs of keen eyes inspect each cluster for ripeness and make sure each is free of rot or disease.
The clusters that make the cut (and, fortunately for us, 99% of ours did) are dropped into a destemmer machine. This equipment gently separates the berries from their stems, shoots the stems out the side and drops the berries into a second phase of the machine. Here, the berries are gently crushed, then dropped into the fermenting container.
Finally, we can start making wine—but that’s the next post!