Grape Crushers and Pressers

"Grapes being crushed by bare feet" Image by Luke [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“Grapes being crushed by bare feet” Image by Luke [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

To extract the juices from the grapes during the wine making process, grapes are crushed and pressed. The process is complex and can vary based on the type of wine being produced. During the crushing process, the grape’s juice is separated from the skin and seeds and collected. Over the centuries, this production process has evolved, and today new machinery has been developed to make the process easier and more yielding.

Evidence of wine crushing dates back to the early BC years in different European regions, with evidence uncovered from ancient presses used by the Egyptians, as well as the Greeks and Romans. It was believed wine was crushed by people stomping with their feet. Pits were designed to hold the grapes being crushed, with a lower, separate pit designed to collect the juice as it drains from the crushed grapes.

"A Basket Fruit Press" - Picture from "Dictionnaire encyclopédique de l'épicerie et des industries annexes" par Albert Seigneurie, édité par "L'Épicier" en 1904, page 551 and is now in the public domain

“A Basket Fruit Press” – Picture from “Dictionnaire encyclopédique de l’épicerie et des industries annexes” par Albert Seigneurie, édité par “L’Épicier” en 1904, page 551 and is now in the public domain

Over time, new equipment was built to assist with this process. Wooden presses, or basket presses, became more common. They were designed to be cranked, pressing the grapes down with a plate that was lowered, extracting the juices into a separate bucket or collector. Some wineries in Virginia today still have on display these antique wooden pressers that were once used in the state. For example, Paradise Springs in Clifton, Virginia has a small wooden presser on display in their cottage, which is viewable during their tours.

As the wine press equipment continued to evolve, new high tech machinery took the place of these wooden presses. The machinery was designed to extract as much juice as possible from the grapes and has been utilized in larger wineries to aid in larger wine production processes. These metal crushers are designed to also assist in the de-stemming of the grapes as it removes the skin and collects the juices in a separate container.

“Mechanical Grape Crusher” – Image from Agne27 at en.wikipedia

As the production process continues to evolve, the Virginia wine industry can benefit from the machinery available to assist in the production process and help increase the wine yield being made and distributed. According to the Virginia Wine Board’s Annual Report from 2012 to 2013, the acreage dedicated to growing grape vines in Virginia in 2012 was 2,974 acres. The evolution of equipment, such as the grape presses and crushers, are helping to provide the tools needed in wine production throughout the state.

 

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