After the pressing, the grapes need to be punched down every day.
When grapes start to ferment, all the solids—grape skins, seeds, stems, pulp—rise to the surface. This mass of solid matter is called a “cap,” and winemakers want to integrate the cap back into the wine. Think of the cap like a tea bag—if it’s just sitting there floating on top, you’re not going to get the color or flavor that you would if you dunk it in to steep.
A punch-down is when a device (think of a big potato-masher) pushes the cap down, breaks it up and submerges it again.
The more often we breaking up the cap, the more a wine will be extracted, dark and tannic. We measure the sugar levels each day, and to get the best wine, we promote that a punch down happens twice a day.
Just an FYI: When you come to help with a punch-down, you’re in for a workout! It takes some physical effort to punch down that cap.
Seven to ten days after the crushing, it’s time to press your grapes. Here you will take the fermented must and transfer it into the press. In the old days, we used a manual barrel press, but now we have an automatic bladder press, which makes the process a lot easier! Gentle pressing extracts the juice and now the liquid is ready for aging. Take a taste…and think of what will become.
Next, we transfer the pressed liquid into your own oak barrel. Here it sits to age. Be sure to come and visit your barrel in the coming months. A great time to barrel taste!