Why do you need a Wine Press
Do you really need a wine press for small batches of home made wine ?
Of course you don't, few home vintners use one.
There are so many other methods of extracting juice from your fruits.
Would you like one ?
Of course you would - it makes the job that much easier.
Wine presses were developed and evolved over the centuries to process grapes - the patriarch of all wine producing fruits. A gallon of grape wine requires upwards of 16 lbs of grapes to produce, berry wines require around 12 pounds and at times much more. After the liquid is extracted , that leaves a lot of pulp behind.
Having a press would allow you to extract more flavorful juice from the fruit fiber, increasing your productivity multi-fold. Most fruits and berries simply do not yield enough juice, or have to be coaxed into yielding more by methods such as freezing and thawing or even steeping. Even then they still require dilution.
If you are serious about your wine making endeavors, introducing a small scale wine press to your operation has advantages. Most notable is its effectiveness in reducing your work load and processing time and increasing and improving the flavor extraction.
Choosing The Right Wine Press
Choose A Wine Press That suits your operation. They come in a multitude of sizes but all press with basically equal pressure.It boils down to how much fruit do you need to press. Too large a press and you generally won't won't fill the pressing basket. Too small a press and you'll be spending too much time pressing, which is somewhat self defeating. With wine presses at least -Size does matter.
The two primary styles of wine presses available are the cider press and the ratchet - either works just dandy in extracting fruit juices.
The cider style press is more geared to small batches of wine 10 gallons or less at a time.
Contrary to what its name implies - it is not used exclusively for apples - it works equally well on any fruits. It has a center thread and functions like a reverse cork screw.
The ratchet style wine press is more commonly used for larger batches of wine. Not necessarily huge vineyards, it's still useful to home vintners as well. A ratchet style press has a central ratcheting head that progresses down a threaded shaft secured to the presses base.
More sophisticated ratchet presses have a separable 2 piece basket design which allows you to remove the spent pulp easily between pressings.
Pressing fruits doesn't need to explained, its pretty much common sense. Dump your slightly crushed produce into the press basket and press - oh wait - did I forget to mention they should be de-stemmed and de pitted as much as feasible.
But wait !- did I also forget to mention - the fruits should be crushed first - silly me.
There's another variable to pressing grapes, not so much other fruits but grapes. Red and white grapes are generally crushed and fermented prior to pressing. Standard grapes are crushed and pressed and the juice/must is then fermented.
A rolling pin or potato masher will suffice for this task. With small batches you can also crush them in a colander and save some of the juice in a collection bucket - or you could crush them in the press basket before pressing.
Before pressing you will notice some juice already collecting, This is referred to as free-run juice. Some vintners separate it, some add it to the batch. Larger operations generally put the free run juice aside and make a separate batch with it - for home vintners it's best to just incorporate it into the main batch or discard it.
If you have ample Free-run and are processing in slightly larger batches it's useful to know that free run juice makes a less colorful wine with less body and is generally fruitier tasting.