It’s The Heat of ‘Crush’ Season at Mount Salem Kitchen

Usually, we’ve got our hands tied during weekends at Mount Salem Kitchen as we host special events such as tastings and product launches. This weekend, our hands won’t exactly be tied – but our feet will be.

That’s because this weekend, we’re heading to Coia Vineyards in Vineland, picking up grapes and getting to work crushing them so in about a year to two years, our Viognier and Northern Italian Lagrein and Marzemino wines will be ready for sipping.

Crushing the old-fashioned way

Of course, for most of our grapes, we use a destemmer-crusher, which crushes the grape clusters between two rolling pins and then separates the grapes from the stems, which are ejected from the machine. Then, the crushed grapes and juice accumulate in a bin below the machine.

However, if for some reason we have a small amount of a certain type of grapes, we simply crush them with our feet (it takes longer to clean the destemmer-crusher than it does to crush the grapes by foot!)

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Sometimes, in the busiest part of harvest season, our crush pad is in full swing from dusk till after dark as we crush the grapes, press the white grapes, and also set up and clean up. So, we plan to be pretty busy in the coming weeks!

The winemaking process

Of course, crushing is only one part of the winemaking process. Before crushing, we harvest, where we remove the grape clusters from the vines by hand or with shears.

After crushing, for reds, we add back some of the stems for extra structure in the wine, plus a very small dose of sulfur to keep spoilage yeasts in check, and then wait for the dominant wild yeasts to multiply and begin to ferment the sugar into alcohol.

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Whites require a few extra steps. After crushing, we immediately press the solids (crushed grape skins, seeds and so on) so that only grape juice is left behind. We mix in some rice hulls with crushed grapes as they help with pressing extra juice out of the solids. Then, we add a bit of sulfur and let the juice settle overnight. We then transfer it to a fermentation vessel which, for us, could either be oak barrels or stainless steels tanks.

Don’t worry, events will soon be back in full force at Mount Salem Kitchen, and we’re still open for business for weekend tastings in the meadow. But in the meantime, we’ll be a bit preoccupied cleaning our toes.

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