Do I need a press to make wine from grapes? Are there cheap alternatives? If I need a press is there a cheap way I can make one?
I've made small quantities without a press, but it's very labor intensive. For a 1 gallon batch, it's reasonable but much larger than that you're going to want some automation. The manual process:
- De-stem the grapes
- Crush the grapes
- Red wine? Ferment on the skin. White wine? Skip to 4.
- Put the crushed grapes in 5 gallon paint strainer bag and express the juice.
I did it all by hand and it didn't take long. I crushed them by hand, a bunch at a time and let the juice run into a muslin bag inside a clean vessel, I let what pulp and skin came off fall into the straining bag. I discarded the rest, stems and all into a waste bucket once the juice stopped flowing. Repeat until bucket empty. Remember that there is a lot of juice locked up in the pulp in the bag and squeeze it out well.
The waste went into the composter.
For small quantities, a quick blast in a food processor will suffice. For larger quantities, get two, close fitting, food grade plastic buckets, fit one with a tap at the bottom and fill it with grapes. Put the second bucket on top and fill it with water. It's not perfect and you won't get as much juice as from a proper press, but it's a cheap and serviceable solution.
3 gallon buckets that are used to hold mayonnaise should be reasonably easy to get from bakers/sandwich shops. Make sure you get plain mayo ones only, flavoured mayos can leave a hard to remove taint.