The first of the wine grapes are ripe at the Cottage! The birds have tasted them. The chickens have jumped up and pulled down some of the clusters to eat. I have tasted them. They're good. They're sweet. The verdict is in, by all...the grapes are ready for harvest.
The juice of grapes may be either pressed out or heat extracted by simply heating them in a big pot until they release their juice. Heat extraction works with a lot of different kinds of fruit for preparing juices for wine, canning or for jelly making.
Once juice is expressed, yeast is added - if making wine - and allowed to ferment for several months until fermentation ceases. The new wine is poured off the lees - sediments - several times (racking) until ready for bottling. After bottling, wine is best if stored, or aged, for at least six months before drinking.
I always can some of the juice, too, to drink and share. It's a good drink to have on hand when people with kids drop by. Kids love the grape juice. Most have only tasted store bought juice made from Concord grapes.
The Cottage has an old root cellar beneath and that's a good spot to store and age wine. The walk-in pantry just off the kitchen is where jellies and juices are kept.
All these bottles need is a label and they are ready for a trip down to the cellar.
It looks like the hops are ready for harvesting, too. With a storm coming in next week, I'd better get to it soon!