I have trodden the winepress alone, and I know that it is hard to be really useful.—t. s. eliot
Once the grapes were dumped into the plastic bin, I changed into disposable clothes, ones that were destined for grape stains. I washed off my legs, got on a ladder, and, much to the amusement of the Pellegrini staff, hopped in. As far as temperature was concerned, jumping into the vat was not much different from plunging into Maine coastal waters. My toes went bloodless. Trying to ward off frostbite, I experimented with stomping techniques, including pacing, circling, zigzagging, all the movements aimed at breaking enough berries to create just enough juice so that the yeast could start to ferment. The fruit flies started to buzz, and after twenty minutes, I hosed myself down and saw an unexpected benefit from the project. My feet and legs were exfoliated smooth; no wonder there’s an explosion of vine health-care products.
Nurselike, Dan the cellar master came by to take the grape’s vital statistics: acidity, pH, and the concentration of sugar (Brix). The higher the Brix, the higher the finished alcohol. We wanted to hit a final alcohol of 14percent, but as the grapes came in at 26Brix we were headed for something more elevated, Kevin said.
“What will we do?” I asked.
He folded his arms against his short-sleeved, plaidshirt.“We’ll figure it out,” he said in a tone that was imbued with “trust me.” I admit, it had the opposite effect.“