Destemming

Destemming time at Boekenhoutskloof Wine Farm Franschhoek

Destemming time at Boekenhoutskloof Wine Farm Franschhoek

The harvesting of wine grapes is one of the most crucial steps in the process of winemaking. The time of harvest is determined primarily by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels with winemakers basing their decision to pick based on the style of wine they wish to produce. The weather can also shape the timetable of harvesting with the threat of heat, rain, hail, and frost which can damage the grapes and bring about various vine diseases. In addition to determining the time of the harvest, winemakers and vineyard owners must also determine whether to use hand pickers or mechanical harvesters. The harvest season typically falls between August & October in the Northern Hemisphere and February & April in the Southern Hemisphere. With various climate conditions, grape varieties, and wine styles the harvesting of grapes could happen in every month of the calendar year somewhere in the world.

After the grapes are sorted, they are ready to be de-stemmed and crushed. For many years, men and women did this manually by stomping the grapes with their feet. Nowadays, most wine makers perform this mechanically. Mechanical presses stomp or trod the grapes into what is called must. Must is simply freshly pressed grape juice that contains the skins, seeds, and solids. Mechanical pressing has brought tremendous sanitary gain as well as increased the longevity and quality of the wine.

The destemmer, which is a piece of winemaking machinery that does exactly what it says, removes the stems from the clusters and lightly crushes the grapes.

Modern crushing and destemming machines consist of a large steel or aluminum trough with a screw in the bottom. As the screw turns the grapes are gently squeezed and pulled from the stems at the same time. Out one end pops the stem and out the other is your elixir of life (to be). 

For white wine, the wine maker will quickly crush and press the grapes in order to separate the juice from the skins, seeds, and solids. This is to prevent unwanted color and tannins from leaching into the wine. Red wine, on the other hand, is left in contact with the skins to acquire flavor, color, and additional tannins.

Shot in Franschhoek at Boekenhoutskloof Wine Farm

Gear: Olympus OM-D EM-1 mark II

Lenses: Zuiko 25mm f1.2 PRO | Zuiko 40-150mm f2.8 PRO