As I mentioned last week, the grape harvest at the lake was last weekend. Overall, it was great fun, but also a lot of work. Here’s a not so short recap of how you start with grapes and wind up with a barrel (or more of wine).
First, obviously, you must cut down all the grapes. The have some clippers that you use to cut the bunches of grapes (you can see Panka holding a pair in the first picture). The kids (especially Panka) loved helping with this part. The picking was 2/3 done when we arrived on Friday afternoon, but we finished the rest up that evening.
When the bucket of grapes is full, it is taken to a machine that grinds up the grapes. The bucket is poured in the top and then when you crank the wheel, it basically just smushes the grapes and also separates out most of the stems. What is left is a large container of grape soup with peels and a few stems floating around.
Before the end of the evening, nagypapa checked the sugar content of the grapes to determine how much sugar he will need to add to the barrels at the end to get a good fermentation (this is your chemistry lesson for the day). We also got to enjoy some of the juice.
The next morning (Saturday) we began loading the smushed grapes into the press. Bucket by bucket we carry the grapes and load them into the press. Most of the peels and remaining stems get caught up in the wooden slats of the press while the juice runs down, goes through a strainer, and is collected in a bucket. Once the press is full, a wooden disc and some blocks are fitted on the top and you can begin to press the grapes. This takes a while, since once it becomes hard to press any further, you can wait 5 or 10 minutes and the pressure diminishes a bit allowing you to press further. The whole operation took 5 or 6 hours, and once the first pressing was done, all the remaining grapes were loaded on top for some more pressing. At the end, all of the remaining grape material feels solid, but spongy, sore of like an eraser.
In the middle of the pressing, we enjoyed my favorite Hungarian meal, bableves (bean soup), thanks to nagymama.
During and after the pressing, all of the collected juices are taken to the cellar and poured into barrels. This harvest produced over 300 liters of juice. I’ll try to report on the quality of the final product (the wine) next year!