Pressing out the Monte Rosso Zinfandel and China Bowl Cab

October 10, 2011



As you may recall, last week we started dialing back the pumpovers on our Monte Rosso Zinfandel in anticipation of pressing it out.

Pressing out red grapes after fermentation is sometimes called a ‘Drain & Press’. We started out on Saturday morning by draining whatever wine we could directly from the tank.

We drain the wine out from the racking valve into a sump, passing it through a stainless steel screen that catches any skins and seeds. The wine is pumped into the receiving tank, and the skins and seeds are recovered to be pressed out later.

Once the tank was finished draining, we placed a macro bin (the same kind of bin we use to deliver grapes to the winery) under the tank door and opened it, allowing the wet skins to fall in.

This stage can be dangerous if the cap has sunk. Sometimes a reservoir of juice can form up above the racking valve that fails to drain, only to come crashing out through the door when it’s opened. Thankfully this is a very rare occurence, but it is a reason that we go to pains to keep the caps from sinking before pressing.

Next we took the macro bins full of wet skins and poured them into the hopper, which in turn conveyed them into the press so that we could extract the last of the wine from the skins.

Another thing that we noticed on Saturday was that the China Bowl Cab was almost done fermenting, so we backed off to one pumpover on Sunday, and this morning we started draining it.

At around four tons the Zinfandel fit into the press easily on Saturday, but the Cab tank we pressed today was a little over five tons, and we just barely managed to get it in. It's a good idea to do the pressing in as few loads as possible to avoid wasting time.

Cabernet Sauvignon tends to have much more tannin in the skins than Zinfandel, so with the Cab we perform what is called a ‘press cut’. When the press cycle is getting close to the end, we start tasting the wine that is coming out and making sure it still tastes the way we want it to. At some point the wine will start to taste slightly bitter and astringent, and at that moment we divert the flow of wine out of the press away from what we’ve already collected and into another container. The higher quality wine from the beginning of the press cycle (which is what will find its’ way into our final Cab blend) is known as ‘free run’, and the small remainder (which usually gets sold off to another winery) is known as ‘press fraction’.

As you can see, we got some great color in this Cab. Since this wine is extremely young, it has a pinkish – purple color, as it ages it will gain a more reddish hue.
To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.

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