We have 250 or 300 vines with which we make wine. We do the whole process in an amateur way and with low resources, so if you want to learn how to take care of your vines and make your wine you can read the post and if you like, leave us a tip!
Before starting we leave you a list to see what utensils you will need:
- Boxes and pruning shears to collect the grapes.
- Large and strong bathtub or bowl in which to tread the grapes.
- Pot type pot to fill the tank.
- Deposit to ferment that protects the wine from dust and insects, but lets the gas out.
- Damajuanas or drums (better made of glass) for malolactic fermentation (optional).
- Tubes, bottles, corks and manual bottling machine to bottle wine.
And now, let's start at the beginning.
During the months with "R" we have permission to prune the strains, since this is the time when the sap is in the roots and the plant does not suffer from pruning cuts. Our vines are in a creative format, they grow in a "glass", which means that we do not have them staked or connected to each other with wire, but each one grows in its own way.
To prune the vines we have to hoe around the bushes. Once the surrounding area is clear, we decide which shoots we are going to leave and the others we cut flush to eliminate future shoots and push the force of the plant to the selected ones. Normally we select about 3 shoots per plant, as widely spaced as possible, that are already strong and in good direction: they have to be vigorous and as alive as possible as well as heading towards the sky.
We cut the selected shoots a little above the second button from the new bifurcation, to leave a margin between the wound and the button since it is possible that the tip of the cut shoot dries out and thus does not get to dry the button that we are interested in sprouting.
Harvesting is a hard day's work and usually collaborative, since, apart from being more fun with people, with just two people we don't get the hours or the muscles. The first thing is to get up before dawn and fill the boxes with grapes, we spend a good part of the morning on that. The moment we fill a box, we empty it into the bathtub where we will step on the grapes in the old-fashioned way.
The tread of the grape is a very fun moment especially for children, who have a great time and are super motivated to splash in must up to their eyebrows. If you bring children of friends, remind them to bring a clean change of underwear and pants or they will surely go home with a reddish ass. Obviously, hygiene must be taken into account at this point, both in the bathtub and in the feet and in the people who help balance the treadmills.
Once the pile of purple balls has diminished to become pure must, it is time to remove the tails that held the grapes to the bunch. This point is very important so that the wine does not have that point of herbaceous flavor that clings to the throat. Removing the tails is hard work, you have to go looking for them among the skins and seeds and it is impossible to remove them all. We settle for taking between 80 or 90% and in the end we always count down to stop discarding tails, otherwise we would spend days removing one by one.
Now we have to pass all the must with the grape skins and the seeds to a drum that we can cover not hermetically but protecting the must from insects and leave it at a stable temperature for about two weeks so that it begins to ferment.
After the hard day of work we already have the precious liquid ready. The must rests quietly in the drum lined with skins, seeds and some scraps. It is very sweet and rich, but its nature will soon change. After a few hours of rest, it begins its transformative boiling as if by magic. But we know that it is not magic, but a very common biological process.
Yeasts are ubiquitous microscopic fungi in our environment and grape skins are one of their favorite sites. Do you remember that white cap of the grape skin that disappears when you rub with your finger? There they are! So when it comes into contact with the sugars in the must, in an anaerobic environment and at a comfortable temperature, fermentation begins. Yeasts feed on the glucose in sugar and convert it into ethanol (ethyl alcohol) and CO2 (bubbles) and that is why the must begins to "boil", due to the continuous bubbles generated by the yeasts when fermenting the must. .
The bubbling is constant as long as the temperature conditions are suitable and the amount of sugar is sufficient. The mixture is stirred several times a day so that the parts that are in contact with oxygen are not contaminated by other aerobic microorganisms that are not predominant in fermentation and that could spoil the wine. From time to time we taste the wine, it is very exciting to observe the organoleptic changes during the process. Little by little the sweetness disappears and the "itch" of the bubbles on the tongue is surprising.
We have been very lucky with the temperature these days and around the 14th the bubbling has begun to decrease while the last solids (skin, seeds and scraps) are slowly falling to the bottom of the drum. It has been a long fermentation, since 15 days is the longest it usually takes. This is because the ambient temperature in which the fermentation has been done has been relatively low, between 18 or 20 degrees, and the low temperature slows down the fermentation process.
The final product has turned out well, although we were afraid that the scraps (removed by hand, tired and at the last minute) would give the wine an acid touch. It has not been like that, although it is noticeable that it grabs a little when drinking it.
Once the first fermentation of the must is done, we can do the malolactic fermentation of the wine, although it is not mandatory. To do this, we must empty the content of the wine from the bottom of the tank, with a tap that filters the rasps, seeds and skins and we have passed it to some glass demijohns in which it will rest to make the malolactic fermentation.
In malolactic fermentation, the bacteria transform malic acid into lactic acid, thereby reducing the acidity of the wine and creating a preservation effect, since other unwanted microorganisms in the wine can no longer feed on the malic acid. Malic acid is a component with an acid flavor present in some fruits, such as grapes, and that serves to preserve food naturally. Arguably, malic acid brings the sour taste to green apples, and that's not a pleasant taste for a red wine. Although the wine that has come out of the first fermentation is not acidic, so it does not contain much malic acid, we are not going to skip this step. We also like to experiment and keep observing the flavor changes.
We have allowed this fermentation to be carried out naturally, in two glass Damajuana carafes covered with cork, but with a channel in the cork that allows CO2 to escape from the carafes and ends up in a bottle of water, so an air trap is created that lets the gas out but does not let in microorganisms, dust or insects.
The fermentation time is highly variable and depends on the concentration of malic acid in the wine. And since we are still apprentices, we will have to learn. Let's see how it turns out!
Now if we have to buy corks and a bottling machine, ours is manual and the bottles are recycled. To transfer the wine to the bottles we use the technique of communicating glasses. The demijohn rests on a high surface and the bottles are lower, so that when aspirating the content of the demijohn with a tube that ends at a lower height than that of the wine, it travels through the tube to fall into each of the bottles. . Then it is to close each bottle with the manual bottler and leave it in a horizontal position until we want to drink it.
I hope it has served as a guide to make your own homemade wine. If you have any questions you can contact us at the source of the article!
And here is a video about the harvest and making wine proces on September 2021: