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Fermenting Vats

These should correspond somewhat with the size of the casks we intend
to fill; but they are somewhat unhandy if they hold more than, say four
hundred gallons. They are made of oak or white pine boards, 1-1/2 inch
thick, bound securely by iron hoops, about three feet high, and, say,
five feet wide. The bottom and inside must be worked clean and smooth,
to facilitate washing. When the must is to ferment a longer time on the
husks, as is often the case in red wines, a false bottom should be
provided, for the purpose of holding the husks down below the surface
of the must. It is made to fit the size of the vat, and perforated with
holes, and held in its place by sticks of two inches square, let into
the bottom of the vat, and which go through the false bottom. A hole is
bored through them, and the bottom held down by means of a peg passed
through this hole. The vat is closed by a tight-fitting cover, through
which a hole is bored, large enough to admit a tin tube of about an
inch in diameter, to let off the gas. The vats are set high enough
above the ground to admit drawing off the must through a faucet near
the bottom of the vat. For those grapes which are to be pressed
immediately we need no false bottoms or covers for the vats. As
fermentation generally progresses very rapidly here, and it is not
desirable with most of our wines to ferment them on the husks very
long, as they generally have astringency enough, operations here are
much more simple than in Europe.

The must is generally allowed to run into a large funnel, filled with
oat straw, and passes through a hose into the casks in the cellar. A
hole can be left through the arch for that purpose, as it is much more
convenient than to carry the must in buckets from the press into the

It is sometimes desirable to stem the grapes, although it is seldom
practiced in this country. This can be easily done by passing the
bunches rapidly over a grooved board, made somewhat in the form of a
common washboard, only the grooves should be round at the bottom and
the edges on top. It is seldom desirable here.

Next: The Wine Casks

Previous: Apparatus For Wine-making--the Grape Mill And Press

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