Anyone have any experience with the GW Kent 79 or 120 gallon bladder press? We are a small winery pressing less than 10 tons/year and I found a used one for a pretty good price. Always worries me when they say, “we only used it one year and it worked fine”.
Hunting Creek Vineyards
I haven’t used one that big, but I have used a smaller one extensively. Its a great press design for small operations. I’m still using the bladder that came with the press in 2004 and it doesn’t really show any wear. But I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to purchase a spare bladder if you want to cover all possibilities. These look like the standard Zambelli or similar design. Since its a tilting model, make sure it comes with the inner mesh bag (usually green color). This allow easier cleaning leaving the basket in place and pulling the mesh bag to break up the cake. These presses often come without pressure regulators and tiny gauges . A regulator is a must have so you can dial in the pressure and walk away. A larger gauge is nice so you can read it without hunching over. Many people convert these to air rather than water. Not done it myself but I can see the appeal. Overall, you get a great press that is repeatable, fairly efficient on yield, and reliable.
Thanks Steve. I went ahead and purchased the press. I already had a spare bladder for it, which made the decision a little easier. I had purcahsed the spare bladder a year ago trying to retrofit an old horizontal screw press. This bladder press is a Zambelli 300 liter press. I think it will work fine for us since we do not do whole cluster press and looks like we can get about 1/2 ton of skins per cake removal. We did get the green mesh bag and the external plastic cover to prevent juice loss during pressing. It does have a pressure gauge to regulate bladder pressure. They specifically do not recommend using air in these bladder presses so we will stay with the water. I guess there is always reverse osmosis if the bladder decides to let go during a particular inopportune moment.
Still thinking about the retrofit of the old horizontal press and this new press may help engineering a little easier. At least I’ve got one press that will work.
The pressure gauge will tell what’s going on but a regulator will help hold the pressure. As the cake compresses, the pressure drops, so you have to keep adding water to maintain pressure. A regulator will hold it at a certain point allowing you to walk away or do other things while the press is doing its job. I think you can easily get 1K pounds in a 300L probably a little more depending on the dryness of the skins going in. Its a lot easier to pump off the free run first so you aren’t dealing with as much wine during pressing and you will get more skins in the press. The plastic bag cover is a pain, hard to clean and use. I made a clear plastic shield the sits on the press. Easy to clean and you can see what going on. Plus I can leave it on while filling since the top is open.