Updated: Nov 28
Sometimes the best way to learn is by making a mistake. I learned that you ALWAYS check the wine tank valves before adding or transferring juice, wine or even thoughts.
It was late October in 2014. We just harvested, crushed and destemmed our first commercial crop of Traminette grapes. It was a wonderful crop and we took extra care to make sure everything went perfectly to get top quality free run juice for our first Traminette vintage. We had finished crushing and destemming the grapes the day before and let them soak in our vat overnight in peptic enzymes in order to get the most top quality juice that we could.
At the time our building wasn't finished enough to perform this process indoors so we were doing all the work outside on these chilly days. The next morning we were setting up to press the juice and then transfer the juice into our new stainless steel fermentation tanks. It was myself, my husband and two of our close friends. My friend and I were in charge of the pressing and transferring and they guys worked on the building so that it would be a temperature controlled shell before winter.
So, we got started. We didn't have the luxury of a must pump or transfer pumps for the juice yet so it was buckets and elbow grease. Since the stainless steel tanks and the press were taller than both of us it was also ladders. The process was to scoop the must (crushed and destemmed grapes) from the vat in a 5 gallon bucket and lift it into the press. Turn the press on then take the juice and lift it into the fermentation tank. There was no hesitation from the press to the fermentation tank, the juice was flowing.....fast.
We were quite a few buckets in, running back and forth from the press to the fermentation tank when I thought it should be filling faster. Unfortunately the bottom valve to the tank was facing away from us. I thought I was going to die when I walked to the other side of the tank and saw the freshly pressed, beautiful Traminette juice pouring all on the ground! The valve was wide open! To this day I don't think a human being has moved faster while screaming an assortment of most likely obscenities to shut a valve off. The ground was soaked with juice.
I am not really sure how many gallons of Traminette juice poured on the ground that day. It certainly was a workout lifting all those buckets. At the end we did fill the tank to the top, which I am not sure how that happened after the great spill disaster. I won't question how but just be thankful for it. It was a lesson learned, I ALWAYS check valves!
After all the juice was pressed my friend and I enjoyed a large glass of wine and a good laugh, after all you can't cry over spilled juice. It's not a lesson unless you learn from your mistakes so that you never repeat them.