“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





23 March 2015


The Homeless Grapes spent a cool night sleeping under the verandah at Yangarra Estate. First thing this morning they were tipped into the grape sorter.

That's Yangarra winemaker Shelley Torresan running the show this morning. Her husband, Damien, runs Torresan Estate, the bottling company that has volunteered to bottle the finished wine, supply the bottles, corks and boxes, and stick the labels on.

That's the sorting machine.The grapes go in the hopper, up a very gentle escalator into the destemmer at top left. The stalks get spat into the blue bin. Then, with a combination of shaking surfaces and the venturi blower, shrivelled over-ripe berries, leaves and all the insects and grubs and whatever that were hiding in the bunches are are ejected into another bin. The machine is adjusted to suit each batch of fruit. The individual berries are then lifted by another escalator belt to be dropped through a tiny crusher in the bottom right. This is set fairly open to let most berries through intact: only the rare fat one gets a squashing.

 So here they come: clean intact berries with no contaminants. Machines like this will revolutionise winemaking and the flavours we eventually drink from the bottle. They are far superior to human bunch sorters as they can select individual berries according to the machine's set-up, at a rate of about four tonnes per hour. Of course it's good to have a fastidious human like German visitor Julia Bauermann picking out the last bits and pieces.

Jock Harvey, of Chalk Hill Wines, donator of the grapes, tempts innocent observers with a taste of the reject fruit. Until such machines were invented, we drank all that stuff, and indeed still do in the average bottle.  All good wineries should have a sorting machine.

And here's the first of the selected fruit, ready to go into the fermenters. That free run juice in the top corners of the vessel is not yet stained by decaying skins. If you made a wine from it, it would be a very pale rosé. Once in the fermenter, this fruit will be left sitting at a cool temperature for a day or two, so more juice oozes out and the skins begin to decay. 

Called a cold soak, this next stage of the winemaking procedure will see the water-soluble aromatics extracted from the skins. By water, I mean the sugary juice, which has not yet been influenced by yeasts which produce ethanol. When it eventually forms as the winemakers let the fermenters gradually warm up in the coming days, such alcohol will remove another range of aromatics from the skins. The water-soluble aromatics are the prettier, more fleeting fragrances, like violets, roses and other florals: the bits that give the eventual wine its alluring topnotes. Follow DRINKSTER to learn the whole procedure.

The Homeless Grapes project is an initiative of Chalk Hill, Vinomofo, Torresan Estate and Yangarra Estate. Most of the wine has been sold to its customers by Vinomofo, which has already donated the income, $36,000(!) to the Hutt Street Centre, a noble cash-strapped charity devoted to feeding, clothing and assisting the homeless people of Adelaide. 

1 comment:

@simongarlick said...

my 2 were glued to an iPad this morning reading yesterday’s update on “their” grapes. Drinkster before school!