Things You Need
- 7 cases of your favorite grapes (makes 20 gallons)
- Italian Crusher Destemmer
- Grape Press
- 32 Gallon Container
- 5 5-Gallon Carboys
- 5 Airlocks
- 5 Rubber Stoppers
- Buon Vino Mini Jet Filter
- Floor Corker
- Wine bottles (80-100)
- Labels (optional)
- Wine bottle shrink caps (optional)
Grape Crushing Day
Grab 7 cases of your favorite type of grapes. You can also mix different grapes for a blend. Most people try something new every year and write down their recipe. This way, after a few years you can perfect your style!
Typically this is done between August and October. This can depend on things such as weather and where you live.
Now, you take your crusher and destemmer and begin to pour the grapes on top of the machine. On one side, someone usually cranks the wheel. Stems will fall in the middle of the machine, and the grape juice will pour into the 32 gallon container below. On the other side of the machine, someone pulls out the stems that fall in the middle and push out towards the other side. This helps make sure the machine doesn’t get stuck. Depending on how many family members are helping, usually 1-2 more people will stand on the other sides of the destemmer and try to pick any bad grapes or stems out. Once all the grapes are crushed, you put the container to the side on an elevated platform.
Now, making wine should be about family and fun. This is why after we help everyone crush their grapes, we always take time to relax.
We usually take a break to enjoy Italian food and each others company. This helps everyone relax. Since this process is work, it’s good to not overdue it.
After we have a break. It’s time to filter the wine. We have a spout at the end of our 32-gallon container that we open and let pour into a strainer and bucket. These are used to poor the juice into a funnel into carboys.
Once the entire 32 gallon container is drained as much as possible, it’s time to squeeze out the remaining grape juice with a wine press. This is done by scooping all the grapes from the container and into the press.
Close the top of the press with wooden blocks and use the crank to crush the rest of the grapes as much as you can. Use the same strainer and funnel from the first filtering.
Once you are unable to press anymore juice out of the grapes, you want to loosen the grapes as much as possible to try to get extra squeezes out of the press.
This can be done by using a knife and cutting them, putting your hands inside and moving them around, adding a little bit of water… or all three!
When you absolutely can’t crush anymore, you will be left with whats known as a “cake.” We discard it, however, some people use it to make grappa or feed to animals. The choice is yours!
Once completed, you should be left with filled up carboys. When the carboys are filled, you will need to airlock them. This begins the fermentation process.
TIP! When sealing the airlock, you wand to use Vodka instead of water. This will keep the lock sanitary and will not need attention every few days. An old Italian trick! We usually just use cheap vodka (why waste the good stuff?)
You are now finished for the day! The only thing left is where the Italian dads shine. Time to hose the equipment off and put it away.
You will then place the containers in a cool area. Let sit and do not move them around! This will mess up the fermenting process.
Let the containers sit for 6 months!
The day is here! It is now time to filter and bottle your wine!
How many times you want to filter your wine is a debate. Some will say they prefer a cleaner wine, and they filter a few times. While others prefer filtering very little, because they feel it leaves more body to the wine.
This will be preference for you, but we usually filter the wine once in February, and let sit for another 1-2 months.
Come April, we are ready to filter one last time right into the wine bottles.
To filter the final time, we use a Mini Jet Filter. You want to use a filter that has tubes that are the size of the opening of the wine bottles. If you use the Buon Vino filter, they do have a great YouTube video explaining how to set it up.
Have one person manage the filter and another person filter the wine into the bottles. Stop the filter when the wine reaches to about the middle of the neck of the bottle. Fill as many bottles as you can!
We cork the bottles simultaneously since we have a big family. Usually we pass the filled bottle to someone running the floor corker. To do this, you leave corks soaked in water. You grab the full bottle of wine and place it in the machine. You then grab a wet cork, place it on top, then use the machine to do the work.
Once the bottles are corked, it’s time to dress it up! Which is of course, completely optional. However, we highly recommend customizing your bottles because a little goes a long way when leaving a lasting impression to those who are lucky enough to receive a bottle!
For the wine labels, this year we just put our Hardcore Italians stickers on them. However, you can use any sticker wholesale company and it will work just the same! We recommend putting your family name, the blend of wine, and the date the wine was made on the label.
To give the bottles a really cool look for extremely cheap, buy wine bottle shrink caps. All you do is place the cap at the top of the wine bottle. Then, stick it in hot water. This really makes the wine look like it was made professionally. Your friends will be impressed.
Once the wine is finished, we box them up and split them! Each family goes home with a couple of cases. We typically let the wine sit a bit longer, and bust them open for Easter time.
If you try our family’s method, please send us some pictures or videos! We would love to repost them on the Hardcore Italians page. We sincerely hope this tradition can bring your family closer together and create some lasting memories with your loved ones that you will never forget!