Renovating old burgundian winery - Vertical Press

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nicholasharbour
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Renovating old burgundian winery - Vertical Press

#1 Post by nicholasharbour »

Now that the winery floor has a beautiful floor and drain, tested today by my father, Gary, as he spent the afternoon power washing the walls, ceilings and floors, we have started another fun project. Colleen and I found a 19th century vertical wine press here in Burgundy and now Gary is helping us to restore it to its former glory. Here are a few pictures of the press on arrival at Maison Harbour.

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The press is a basket press made by Demoisy Fils made in Beaune. The trough is made of cast iron. The cage is made of oak and has a diameter of 80 cm and a height of 80 cm. I figure this gives it a volume around 4 hl. Which for world wine standards is tiny, but for our small winery it will be perfect. Because of it's small size both Colleen and I can move and operate the press on our own. The pressing mechanism is ratcheting (pressoirs à cliquets) which is also nice because there is nothing to malfunction. It just needs a lot of good old elbow grease to work. We also like that most people here refer to this type of press as a pressoir américain!

We started the restoration by dismantling the press. The ratchet was removed from the screw and the oak staves were removed from the iron bands. This was not easy as most of the century old screws and bolts had fused together and would just spin in place through the oak staves. It was at this point we knew we had to replace the staves.

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Now come the fun part. How do you replace oak staves? We are lucky enough to have good friends at the barrel marker, Meyrieux. They are located just a few minutes west from Nuits-Saint-George. We wrote up a nice post about visiting them and the art of making Burgundy barrels you can check it out, here. After a quick visit to the tonnellerie, we had a source for new oak staves. They should be ready to be picked up next week!

The other parts of the basket, the bottom and the top, not sure what their names are... also needed some work. After careful consideration we decided to make use of the best of the old oak staves to build a new base and refurbish the top. We got to work rough sanding them down and cutting them to size.

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The work of putting these pieces together in a perfectly spaced base was taken on by Gary, who make quick work of it.

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Next up was the top.

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After,

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While we wait now for the new oak staves we have started to think about the trough. The idea is to brush it down to the iron and repaint it with food-grade paint. Then last but not least the chariot needs a new coat of paint. We are thinking about sticking with the original colors, red, black and blue/grey. What do you think?

In terms of functionality, anyone have any advice about getting the ratchet working well? Should we grease the screw? What type of grease should we use?
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#2 Post by Corey N. »

Magnificent Nicholas. Thank you for sharing.
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#3 Post by Al Osterheld »

That's small, but I think it's large as far as hand-powered ratchet presses. It will be quite a workout and fairly slow. I think the other issue is keeping the wood clean. Glad to hear you're replacing the slats.

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#4 Post by nicholasharbour »

Corey N. wrote:Magnificent Nicholas. Thank you for sharing.
Hey Corey, It was such a great find and once it is fully restored it truly will be magnificent!
Al Osterheld wrote:That's small, but I think it's large as far as hand-powered ratchet presses. It will be quite a workout and fairly slow. I think the other issue is keeping the wood clean. Glad to hear you're replacing the slats.

-Al
Al, that is a great point. This year will be a test run with this press. We are hoping it will be feasible. We are really getting excited to see it in action. No word yet from the guys making the new slats for us but when we get them in I will post some shots.
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#5 Post by Berry Crawford »

WHy not just use the original slate?

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#6 Post by Andrew Morris »

Are you planning to make only reds, or both whites & reds?
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#7 Post by Jim Hartten »

Nicholas, thanks for the update. Your wine press looks interesting - hope it works well. Do you have any sense what volume of grapes you can press in an average day with that type of press (e.g., 1 ton)? Hope you get good weather for the next few weeks and are able to secure some desirable grapes! [cheers.gif]

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#8 Post by Joe Webb »

That looks a lot like the one I bought to make home wine. After draining the free run we could almost fit a half ton of skins in it. We did have to bolt it to a concrete pad to get any kind of decent yield, when the screw gets tight the press wants to move around on ya. We got 100- 115 gallons per ton. I now have a much larger wooden basket hydraulic basket press and can get 150 gallons per ton if we press that hard. At the end we taste to decide when to cut it off. For whites I can only get about 120 gallons per ton out of it, though for one press load of semillion its still worth not getting a new proper white wine press.

Good luck with harvest, that space has come a long way.
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#9 Post by nicholasharbour »

Berry Crawford wrote:WHy not just use the original slate?
The original slates were just a bit tired... and knowing a good cooper we decided to give it some love and put all new slates on. It is going to be a happy press.

Andrew Morris wrote:Are you planning to make only reds, or both whites & reds?
We are planning to do both reds and whites. Any advice for using the press for both?

Jim Hartten wrote:Nicholas, thanks for the update. Your wine press looks interesting - hope it works well. Do you have any sense what volume of grapes you can press in an average day with that type of press (e.g., 1 ton)? Hope you get good weather for the next few weeks and are able to secure some desirable grapes! [cheers.gif]
Hi Jim! We did some calculations and came up with a volume of 400 liters. We are figuring a press cycle will take around 1.5 hours from start to finish. Coupled with the fact that it is man powered I am guessing that we will be able to press around 1,200 and 1,600 liters of must in a good day. I think that is quite a bit... but only experience will tell. We do have Goliath as well which is another vertical press with a volume around 3,000 liters, well keep it as an insurance policy this year, just in case.

Joe Webb wrote:That looks a lot like the one I bought to make home wine. After draining the free run we could almost fit a half ton of skins in it. We did have to bolt it to a concrete pad to get any kind of decent yield, when the screw gets tight the press wants to move around on ya. We got 100- 115 gallons per ton. I now have a much larger wooden basket hydraulic basket press and can get 150 gallons per ton if we press that hard. At the end we taste to decide when to cut it off. For whites I can only get about 120 gallons per ton out of it, though for one press load of semillion its still worth not getting a new proper white wine press.

Good luck with harvest, that space has come a long way.
Joe, thanks for all the information. I think you're right similar size. Interesting about it moving around. Last year when Colleen and I made wine, we used a small fruit press and as soon as the screw got tight it would take another person holding it down to get any pressure. That concerns me a bit for this press because it is on wheels. I think it probably weighs around a ton and with half a ton of fruit in it I am hoping it will stay still... we will see.

Regarding the size and the yield, I think you really are spot on. The guy who sold it to us said the size was, one barrel which would be 228 liters (60 gallons). I will let you know what we get out of it!

How long did it generally take you to get through a pressing cycle (including loading and unloading)?



I just snapped a photo of the new slates but flickr is down for maintenance. I will post them in a few hours when it is back up.
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#10 Post by nicholasharbour »

and now... the new slates are in and my photos are up! Beautiful French oak, looking and smelling great. Here they are.

The old slates,

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The new slates,

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In addition, I have finished brushing down the hoops to the raw metal and started to repaint them with food-grade paint.

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The next big piece will be to repaint the chariot and the trough. We will be starting that soon. Only a few weeks left until the Burgundy harvest begins.
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#11 Post by Andrew Morris »

nicholasharbour wrote:
Andrew Morris wrote:Are you planning to make only reds, or both whites & reds?
We are planning to do both reds and whites. Any advice for using the press for both?
Yes. Free and worth every penny.

Unless you are planning to make tannic whites, arrange something that will allow you to separate your cake into several sections which allow each section to drain juice separately. This will lead to more even pressures, less tannic extraction and better yields w/o a drop in quality.

I have seen people use two half circle shaped SS screen sandwiches. It is heavy screen, steel rods, then another layer of heavy screen. I think there are other ways to accomplish the same idea.

It might be good to use the same rig for reds as well. It will probably increase yield per ton, without having to increase press pressure.

Also, on the whites, don't be shy with the rice hulls.
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#12 Post by Joe Webb »

Andrew Morris wrote: Also, on the whites, don't be shy with the rice hulls.
Agree for whites, i use them in a X pattern between each layer(1/2 ton) bin in my basket press.
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#13 Post by ericleehall »

We use a similar commercial Italian press (but water powered).

You will need to have some extra staves, because they will break.

We finally had a sheet metal screen manufactured to use as a sleeve inside the cage, and that works really well.
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#14 Post by nicholasharbour »

It has been a while, actually, a long while...

and...

I am happy to report that the press is finished and that it functioned perfectly to press our two Pinots (and today a Gamay of a friend).

The last few things came together a couple of days before the harvest started here in Burgundy. My father finished putting the new oak staves together for the cage and I ground down the old paint and repainted (food-grade).

Instead of writing a lot I'll just put up a bunch of photos (I'll try to get a video of the ratcheting up soon).

Enjoy!


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#15 Post by Hank Beckmeyer »

Great photos! Thanks for posting.
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#16 Post by Eric Ifune »

Nice!

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#17 Post by S. Reynolds »

Very cool! Thanks for sharing this great story.
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#18 Post by Martin Keen »

Andrew Morris wrote:
nicholasharbour wrote:
Also, on the whites, don't be shy with the rice hulls.
Did you use any press aid, such as rice hulls? When pressing in a basket press like yours they can worth their weight in gold. Shorter pressing time, better yield and lower solids. Cleanup time is greatly reduced. You really cannot add too many rice hulls. When pressing we would cover the bottom wood slats with a couple of inches of rice hulls. The first portions of must would be bucketed in as to reduce disturbing the bottom layer of rice hulls. Rice hulls are mixed in throughout the crushed grapes. At the end another inch or so of rice hulls is added to the top of grapes. This keeps the top boards clean. If you are pressing more than one load of grapes per day you can just hose off the boards and slats and they will be relatively clean. It beats using a knife to clean out pulp and seeds between the boards.

If anyone has ever pressed American hybrids you can really understand the value of press aid.

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#19 Post by nicholasharbour »

Martin Keen wrote:Did you use any press aid, such as rice hulls?
Hi Martin, we did not use any press aid. Thought a bit about it with the advice from this post but did not have time to actually look into getting some. Also we were a bit hesitant because we have never head of anyone using them in Burgundy.

The rice hulls don't take or give anything to the wine?

Our press is basically a two barrel press. I say that because for our Gevrey-Chambertin La Justice with free run and press juice we ended up with four barrels and it took two full baskets to press it all. At this size pressing time is relatively short. I think each press took us around an hour to an hour and half (including time to turn the cake). This did not bother us and we were really taking our time, waiting for the juice to come to a trickle before applying more pressure.

For the cleanup... well it was just a quick jet of water and a brush... now the ground, that is a different story.

All that said, I was really happy with the results of pressing without any press aid. I don't know if it is because of the size of the press, but the press juice was tasting amazing from start to finish... (finish being when we pushed to ratchet and the entire press moved). Not sure of the effect on quantity of juice would really have to do a test one year. But for one press I think we netted around 150 liters (does that sounds normal?). We settle/assemble free run and press juice directly after pressing so we are not too concerned by solids. When we went to barrel we choose the best lees to take.

I suppose that is how I justified my not looking more into using press aids this year. Might look into finding some rice hulls for next year. Where do you find them?
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#20 Post by Martin Keen »

nicholasharbour wrote:
Martin Keen wrote:Did you use any press aid, such as rice hulls?
Hi Martin, we did not use any press aid. Thought a bit about it with the advice from this post but did not have time to actually look into getting some. Also we were a bit hesitant because we have never head of anyone using them in Burgundy.

The rice hulls don't take or give anything to the wine?

I suppose that is how I justified my not looking more into using press aids this year. Might look into finding some rice hulls for next year. Where do you find them?
Hello Nicholas,

The rice hulls do not have any effect on the final wine. Sometimes you might be able to taste the rice hulls a bit in freshly pressed white juice but that will disappear. Any dust or particles from the rice hulls rapidly settles to the bottom.

If you are only pressing fermented red grapes, a press aid is not as critical. If any stems are added to the red grape must, they act as a press aid.

When pressing white grapes with a basket press, a press aid really helps. This is where a press aid is more critical. Juice extraction and cleanup is much easier. Press aid is relatively easy to find in the Eastern US. It is impossible to press American hybrids (Catawba, Niagara, etc.) in a basket press without a press aid. The pulp of the grape stays intact and will shoot out of the press. For American hybrids both enzymes and press aid are used.

If no grape processors use press aid in Burgundy, you might try apple pressing operations. Apples are even more difficult to press and really require a press aid. Other products besides rice hulls are used as a press aid. Cellulose fibers are commonly used. The old Taylor Wine Company in Hammondsport, New York would get cellulose fiber in by the rail car.

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