Racking my crush

You may recall that I took home some crushed grapes from Calistoga, lo these may weeks ago. I had been keeping half an eye on them, sitting in their bucket in my back porch. I would punch the must back down into the juice, smelling a faint whiff of fermentation. But there was no furious activity, no foaming and overflowing. Probably a good thing, considering how busy I was with the dinner, but I finally got concerned enough to ask Poto who, even if he hasn’t made grape wine, is the closest thing to an expert among my acquaintance. He suggested that, since I hadn’t bothered to measure the potential alcohol level before starting anything, I just taste the juice to see whether it was still sweet. I’ll admit that I had been harboring secret fears that I was going to be giving lots of homemade vinegar out at Christmas, but there was no acetic taint. It tasted, in fact, like wine, although a rather harsh one.

So I racked it off into a carboy. First I had to extract the giant bag of skins and stems.

The bucket holds seven gallons, and I had significantly less than five gallons of juice left.

(It looks like even less in that photo, but the bucket was more than half full.) I sterilized the carboy and the tube with my Campden solution, then siphoned the juice off of the sediment.

Siphoning always seems like magic to me.

The carboy wasn’t full

so I topped it off with water (which will make for a lighter wine, which is OK with me) and put the whole thing into the dark coolness of my basement vestibule, with the nifty airlock bung to protect it.

Now we wait for a while, and hope.

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Working to build a local, sustainable food system in San José