Your Best Crush and Press Interviews

 
Full Best Crush And Crush Pro Interviews
Marty Johnson is winemaker and cellar master at Hyatt Vineyards in Zillah, Washington. He is also Co-owner and Vigneron with his wife Ryan at Ruby Magdalena Vineyards located in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA in Washington, growing limited quantities of Tempranillo, Graciano and Grenache on 1 ¼ acres, producing 350 cases annually. Marty has earned a two-year certificate in Enology and Viticulture from the University of California at Davis, as well as the WSET level 2 award with distinction and the WSET level 3 award with merit from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust based in London, UK.

To stay up to date with what Marty is Making now, please visit: 
Ruby Magdalena
Ruby Magdalena on Facebook
Hyatt Vineyards 
1. Do you have a checklist in place leading up to crush? 2017 will be my 13th crush and I still like to have a reminder of basic preparation. There are so many things going on in many of our lives and crush only happens once a year, forgetting to check or prepare something can be a costly oversight. I use an article written by Dr. Murli Dharmadhikari and published in Vintage & Vineyard View (Mountain Grove, MO.) as a guideline. https://www.extension.iastate.edu/wine/sites/www.extension.iastate.edu/files/wine/HarvestPreparation.pdf
2. Do you try to stock replacement parts for most of your equipment? And do you have a “Plan B” in place in case of equipment failure? At Hyatt, we have a large assortment of spare parts for our crush and winery equipment. We also have enough small equipment to provide redundancy for pumps, hoses, hand tools and fittings. At Ruby Magdalena Vineyards, our operation is so small that we focus on having spare parts for equipment that would shut down operation in the event of failure. Rollers for the crusher, drive chain links, press bladder, basket liners and such. Our winery community is pretty accommodating so that in case of an emergency, our neighboring wineries lend equipment or crush pad services, even tank space when available.
3. Any tips or tricks you can provide that may not be obvious when making a plan and getting the winery ready for the arrival of the grapes? It might be obvious, but prepare for the worst and plan for the best. Estimate what and how much you’ll be processing and add 10 – 20%. Better to have a bit more material and time if all goes according to plan, than to be lacking either when plans change or you get a great deal on extra fruit. Oh, and be sure to stock up the refrigerator with good beer! It’s often said that “It takes a lot of good beer to make great wine!” It’s an easy way of saying “Thank You” to crush helpers and friends.
4. In your opinion, what is the most important factor when planning your upcoming crush; cleanliness, fruit quality, help or all of the above? Cleanliness and organization are extremely important for safety and efficiency, but I think that the most important thing is communication. Cellar crew, crush team, growers, delivery carriers and especially volunteers should all be on the same page to prevent problems. Keeping everyone in the loop helps prevent surprises and lets everyone know that you care about the project and their parts in the whole procedure.
5. How important is sorting the grapes before they reach the crusher? If you are as concerned about the final quality of your product as you should be, then the quality of your raw materials entering the process should be paramount. Start with the best quality fruit that you can obtain, even if it means that you’ll have less quantity to work with. Unfortunately it’s easier to compromise or lose quality as winemaking and elevage progress, than it is to create better quality through winemaking.
6. What are the pros and cons of buying vs. growing grapes; does either make crush easier than the other? Growing your own fruit allows you the most control of fruit quality and condition (as well as fruit varieties) but it also incurs its own added cost in money, time and space. Also, growing your own fruit will limit you to what grows well in your area and in your growing conditions. Locally grown fruit can often be purchased seasonally, and in many areas there are grape growers that will sell fruit in large and small quantities to those willing to pay for the service. Don’t however assume that a grower will change harvest and crush schedules to accommodate your schedule or sugar and acid parameters. Some will, but many are very busy with their own operations. Buying frozen or otherwise processed fruit opens up another whole world of grape varieties to you but at a greater cost. Using processed fruit allows you to make wine year round, which is a great idea if demand exceeds supply as friends discover your talents!
7. How do you estimate the amount of additives (sulfite, yeast, nutrient etc.) you need to stock before the grapes come in? If you’re buying fruit, the math is pretty easy and planning is straightforward, but you should consider purchasing a bit more material than planned for just in case you change your mind in the heat of battle, as it were. Frequent trips to the vineyard site throughout the growing season will establish a good rapport with the grower, and give you a better idea of fruit progression. That way you can prepare for possible needs of acid additions or other fruit adjustments at crush time. If you grow your own fruit, crop estimating is critical. Learn how to take cluster samples and weigh them accurately. A small deviation can make a huge difference when multiplied out a few hundredfold. Learning to do basic tests for sugar, pH, and titratable acidity will definitely help project future needs for the crush.
Daniel Wolfe hails from Edinboro PA. He has been a home winemaker for many years, before taking on his current role as associate winemaker at Presque Isle Wine Cellars 7 years ago in North East PA, which processes over 400 tons of grapes yearly. Daniel is passionate about winemaking and active in promoting winemaking education. He is a member of the American Wine Society and judges wine competitions locally and around the state. 

For more information on Presque Isle Winery please visit Presque Isle Winery.
1.Do you have a checklist in place leading up to crush? Yes. All equipment is inspected and serviced over the summer. Barrels and tanks need to be emptied, cleaned and sanitized. Additional barrels need to be ordered. We visit growers throughout the season and inspect the vineyards. As we get close to harvest we take samples throughout the vineyards and test for flavor, pH, acid and sugar to determine best day for harvest depending on the weather. Estimates need to be made as to how many tons of grapes you want to bring in based off previous sales, new forecasts, quality and quantity of the harvest due to Mother Nature. 
2. Do you try to stock replacement parts for most of your equipment? And, do you have a plan B in place in case of equipment failure? Being a wine making supplier we already have numerous parts available to us. With many wineries in close proximity to each other if one was to have a major breakdown there are other wineries that would step up and help them out in an emergency. We do have extra pumps in case one was to break down. Just as importantly is to have a mechanic on hand that is able to fix all of the equipment.
3. Any tips or tricks you provide that may not be obvious when making a plan and getting the winery ready for the arrival of the grapes? First and foremost, don’t plan any major life events during harvest. Be ready to alter your plans on a moment’s notice, things often times do not go as planned. You want to make sure all of your equipment is ready in good working order and have enough help to handle the product when it comes in. Ensure you have all chemicals ordered and on site plenty of time ahead of harvest. Sample the grapes in the vineyard before they are harvested and again when they arrive. 
4.In your opinion, what is the most important factor when planning your upcoming crush; cleanliness, fruit quality, help or all of the above? Estimating how much product you need to bring in and what is available is the first thing. Next is communicating with the growers throughout the year and visiting the vineyard looking for any irregularities or issues. I Know which block of the vineyard my grapes are coming from and I begin sampling and testing them as it gets close to harvest for fruit damage, flavor, sugar, acid, and ph. Having enough workers lined up is also essential before harvest. 
5. How important is sorting the grapes before they reach the crusher?Sorting the grapes before crushing can make a big difference if you can do it. It takes a lot of manpower, an expensive sorting table, and slows production down immensely. However, removing all the leaves, bits of vines, unripe and damaged fruit, bugs and (MOG) materials other than grapes greatly enhances the final product.
6. What are the pros and cons of buying vs. growing grapes, does either make crush easier than the other? Winemaking begins in the vineyard. To make great wine you need to start off with great grapes. Owning a vineyard requires a lot of land, expensive equipment, chemical applications and a knowledgeable person and commitment to maintain it. Growing your own grapes gives you control of the vineyard ensuring everything is done to your standards. You also have a large cost savings growing your own. Additionally there is a risk factor if you’re hit with a deep freeze in the winter, frost in the spring or drought in the summer possibly wiping out your entire crop for the year. The grapes and weather determines when to harvest so owning a vineyard you have to be ready to pick and process in a hurry if bad inclement weather is predicted sometimes even if the grapes aren’t quite ready rather than risking losing the entire crop. Buying the grapes takes the risk factor out of the equation as you can always buy from another source if yours is not available. Buying direct also allows you to buy the exact amount you need and to refuse the product if it does not meet your expectations.
7. How do you estimate the amount of additives (sulfite, yeast, nutrient etc.) you need to stock before the grapes come in? I have a good estimate of the amount of product I need before harvest and base my needs for barrels, additives, chemicals, yeast, etc off of that. It’s always a good idea to buy extra due to unforeseen circumstances if you don’t have a winemaking supplier near you.



Zac Brown, is a long-time home winemaker and has been a guide for other aspiring winemakers. Zac is now the winemaker & proprietor of Alderlea Vineyards & Motovino Wines Inc. in Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Which produces 100% of their wine from their own vineyard. Grapes such as Pinot Noir, Marechel Foch, Cabernet Foch, Bacchus, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc are being grown on 10 acres of land.




For a better look at what Zac Brown is creating, please visit Alderlea and give them a like at  Alderlea on Facebook  
1. Do you have a checklist in place leading up to crush?
Yes, I like to ensure that all the parts in my control are lined up before the grapes arrive on the crush pad. This means ordering all my yeasts, nutrients, enzymes, tannins, sulfite etc. early, July for a September crush.
The only thing I don't order in advance is malolactic bacteria, unless co-fermenting I like to get those cultures as close to harvest as I can. I also tend to order 25% more than I think I'll need. This is a holdover from home winemaking as sometimes I might spill some or some other crush day catastrophe, it also allowed me to take advantage of any unexpected fruit opportunities or have some on hand to help out a fellow home winemaker. I keep most supplies in sealed containers in a cool dark place or the freezer.
2. Do you try to stock replacement parts for most of your equipment? And, do you have a plan B in place in case of equipment failure?
Critical spares, like a drive belt for the crusher/destemmer, a spare bladder for the press, spare inflatable seals for Variable capacity tanks, and pump spares.
I would recommend testing your crusher/destemmer, press etc. a few weeks before crush. Make sure they work and all the parts are in place, you don't want to find out you lost your basket press pawls on press day. Clean everything very well, so at crush you can just give things a quick sanitizing and go.
one year, home winemaking, I had two tonnes of grapes in my driveway and my crusher wouldn't work because of a fried on off switch. Thankfully someone from a local wine club bailed me out by loaning their crusher. Networks with other wineries and home winemakers are important as they form your plan B. if you are remote and there is no winemaking community nearby, consider redundancies, i.e. if you upgrade from a basket press to a bladder press, keep the basket press as a back up.
3.Any tips or tricks you provide that may not be obvious when making a plan and getting the winery ready for the arrival of the grapes?
Have extra help on hand, one or two more people than you think you need. crushing and pressing with home winemaking equipment is pretty physical, by having extra people to rotate through the tasks, you reduce the chances of injury and exhaustion. plus if your gear fails or there is some other emergency, manual options become more viable. Also this extra labor can really speed up cleaning and logistics. if you're the winemaker, your roll is to coach, train, encourage and reward your crew. even home winemaking I wouldn't typically man any one task, but rather move between tasks helping and guiding the crew. Have food and drinks on hand & take a lunch break. Keep everyone hydrated and feed them well. Do some warm up stretches as a team before the start of the crush, rotate people through the tasks, and take stretch breaks.
4. In your opinion, what is the most important factor when planning your upcoming crush; cleanliness, fruit quality, help or all of the above?
The most important factor would be great fruit, you'll never find a winemaker to tell you anything different, however you also need to be prepared to handle that fruit when it arrives . you want to be prepared and set up to go as soon as the grapes arrive, wasting 2 hours setting up while you figure out how the crusher works can put your fruit in jeopardy. Prep all your gear the day before, have a plan.
5.How important is sorting the grapes before they reach the crusher?
It depends on your fruit sourcing and quality, if machine picked fruit, sorting becomes more important. Hand picked fruit will typically have less MOG and bad bunches and I don't usually need to sort that, its done in the field.
If you live in New York and are using California fruit which has been trucked and in storage, sort out any moldy bunches. As a rule the cleaner and fresher the fruit coming in is, the less sorting is required.
As a home winemaker I would intentionally source fruit from less weather extreme areas, in very hot areas you can get more raisined fruit which can give heavy flavors and also send your brix levels high once those raisins soak in the must. And fruit from very cool areas can have more mold, high acidity and green flavors. Sourcing from moderate climate areas, less sorting is needed.
6.What are the pros and cons of buying vs. growing grapes, does either make crush easier than the other, which do you prefer and why?
With growing grapes, you can stage the picking to flow into your crush pad, the throughput of the crush pad sets the pace. if you have a breakdown, you can leave the fruit on the vine for a day longer while you make repairs. But with bought fruit it can be a sprint to process it asap.
As a home winemaker I always purchased fruit, but luckily I was close to the growing area and would typically crush it 24 hours after it was picked. Buying fruit is much much less work and coordination. I prefer to grow fruit but as a home winemaker, if you have great fruit source, keep that relationship going year after year.


7.How do you estimate the amount of additives (sulfite, yeast, nutrient etc. ) you need to stock before the grapes come in?
I base this on the volume of grapes I am getting and the size of the must I anticipate. I buy 25% more than I technically need. stored right this extra can last until the next year.

A BIG thank you to Marty, Zac and Daniel for doing these interviews! Go out and visit their wineries!







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