My equipment is clean, the sugar in the grape must is reading near 0 and I’m ready to press the wine! The process is pretty simple: scoop the must into the basket press, let the free-run wine come out into a pail, and squeeze the leftover skins to get even more wine out of it. But don’t squeeze too much or you’ll start crushing seeds and getting bitter wine.
The one thing my winemaking books didn’t say anything about was what to do with the free-run and pressed wine. I wasn’t about to go over-the-top and do taste tests while blending the two together–I wanted to use all the wine I got! But It became obvious if I wanted a consistent final product, I needed to blend all the wine together–a job that was far to big for the pail the wine was running into. So I improvised, washing my primary fermenter on the fly and mixing all the wine in it before siphoning it off into my glass containers. It worked out fine.
I ended up with enough wine to fill a 6-gallon carboy and half of a one-gallon jug. Filling half of a one-gallon jug is not ideal because there is a lot of headspace in the container (protecting wine from air is critical at this stage). But it is still going through malolactic conversion and making CO2 gas, so I think it will be okay while the conversion completes over the next few weeks. It should give me enough wine to top up my 6-gallon carboy after I rack it the first time.
So now I play the waiting game. The bacteria are converting malic acid to lactic while pulp, dead yeast cells and other sediment fall to the bottom of the container. When the malolactic conversion is complete I’ll be writing again to update on the first racking and addition of SO2 to protect the wine as it ages and clarifies.