Making Wine

I was in Thorold a few weekends ago, and it happened to be wine making time!

My parents had already picked their grapes the week before (about 12 bushels, I think). Because their grapes are mostly white grapes, they bought a few cases of California red grapes to make the wine a red colour. What they do is warm the grapes up in a huge cauldron outside – just enough so that it will speed the fermentation. Then they crush them using a machine (no, they don’t use their feet!). Finally, they put the crushed grapes into large tubs and let them ferment for a week or so.

When I got there, my parents were ready for the next step: using the wine press. I took lots of movies, which you can view below. I’m speaking our Italian “Macchiagodena” dialect with my parents. Anything you hear that might sound like yelling is not yelling. It just sounds that way. 🙂

Moving the wine from the large tubs into the wine press. (I guess it’s not really wine yet, but I’ll call it that for now):

Making Wine 1 from Reid on Vimeo.

A view of the wine pouring out of the press. We haven’t pressed it yet, it’s just the juice from the crushed grapes. You can also see my mother preparing the sugar that’s to be added. She’ll add some of the wine and warm it up on the stove to melt the sugar. During the movie, I ask my mother what she does with the sugar (she says she’ll add it to the wine barrel), and she’s surprised I don’t remember all this. And I tell her that I was never around, all I remember was my grandfather giving me a ride on the metal bar over the press. (You’ll see that bar in a later video).

Making Wine 3 from Reid on Vimeo.

Next, we take the wine in a bucket over to the barrel in the next room. My father pours as my mother holds a sieve. I notice my mother has papered everything in an attempt to ease the clean up from all the wine splashing about. At the end of the video, I say “You’ve papered everything”, and she replies “And who else would paper it, your father?”

Making Wine 4 from Reid on Vimeo.

My dad starts to add wood blocks to the press. You only see a few in this video, but he will add 5 or 6 layers of blocks.

Making Wine 7 from Reid on Vimeo.

All the blocks of wood have been added, and the metal bars have been attached to the “screw” portion of the press. I distinctly remember getting a ride on those bars as a small child, but they would have pressed the grapes way down before I could fit.

Making Wine 9 from Reid on Vimeo.

They filled up the barrel, and a demijohn. They’d need another demijohn as they continued to press over the day. I had to leave before the end of the day, unfortunately. The wine will continue to ferment in the barrel and demijohns. After 40 days, it’ll be ready for drinking (although, they’ll probably wait longer).

For anyone who’s interested, I translated that last video below. In some cases, I tried to keep the word order in case anyone is trying to pick up the Italian out of our strange dialect (but wasn’t able to all the time). Here it is, for what it’s worth:

Mum: Are you done now? Wait. [places the bar] Ok

Dad: Turn now, go round and round

Luisa: So, I don’t fit any more to sit up there. How could I have ever fit up there?

Mum: How am I supposed to know?

Luisa: …With those cords, I would have hung myself.

Mum: When he wants to go…[teasing, he’s going too fast]

Luisa: Oh! You’re too short. [She can just reach the bar]

Luisa: He goes too quickly, and you go too slowly [laughs]

Mum: Now he’s going on his own. See? See how it pours there?

Luisa: You can see it. You can hear it, too. Oh my God, it’s Niagara Falls

Dad: We’re going to need the big demijohn, and it won’t be enough, either.

Luisa: You see how they’re coming down, Lui [short for Luisa]

Mum: See in here?

Luisa: How does it [the wood] get sent down?

Mum: Huh?

Luisa: How is it that it sends that [wood] down?

Mum: With this weight.

Luisa: No, no, no

Dad: See it turns [general hand waving]

Mom: See the screw remains on top

Luisa: OK [giving up]

Mum: See in here, how much wine has come up [through the wood]

Luisa: Oh, the wine’s come up

Mum: This will all end up below, only this much will be left out. Then we’ve got to flip it.

Luisa: You have to flip the grapes? [They mean, after they’ve been pressed, they’ll flip and re-press them to get more of the wine out]

Mum: You flip the grapes and then you put it all back and..

Mum: Ya

Luisa: And how much will come out?

Mum: Well it comes out “good”.. it can’t really be thrown out. Your grandfather (“tata”) would flip it 3 or 4 times

Luisa: And you?

Mum: Ha, dad, last year, did it only one time [laughs]

Luisa: Huh?

Mum: Dad, last year…

Dad [defensive]: But it was little! [a small amount of grapes]

Mum: One time

Luisa: But… how do you say it… it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it… not too much

Mum: For a bit of wine, one says, you have to do all that work

Luisa: A gallon, yes, but a little …

Mum: Huh?

Luisa: A gallon, ok, but.. a couple of glasses…?

Mum: … more you turn, the more comes out .. beautiful, clear

Luisa: Ya?

Luisa: Oh, fine and clear. Finally. Then, can you drink already now?

Mum: No! [laughs]

Luisa: Why? What’ll it do to you?

Mum: Ummm…uh… it’s cloudy.. it’s got to get clear

Luisa: And when will you drink that now?

Mum: Saint Martino’s

Dad: It needs 40 days

Mum: Saint Martino’s? When is Saint Martino’s?
[She recites a saying I can’t translate.]

Luisa: My God [Refering to the saying. Yet *another* saying. She has one for everything]

Dad: 40 days

Luisa: 40 days.

Dad: Ya. But we have the old [wine], the large demijohn, we have to drink the old first

Luisa: Oh, you’ve got to drink the old first. 40 days. Oh, uh.. a month and a half

Mum: Those don’t have any… On the 11’th of November. … on the 11th of November is Saint Martino’s

Dad: Sighs [as he sits]. It’s filling!! It’s about to be full this bucket

Mum: No, it’s not too full

Luisa: You’re tired?

Dad: Huh?

Luisa: Now I’ll turn … now I’ll turn.

Engineering Challenge

As most of my friends know, my brother bought a way cool cottage up north. And since he didn’t mind getting a fixer-upper, well, that’s what he got. It’s not in bad shape at all, really. But does need some work here and there. Just small things, like preventing it from sliding into the lake 😀

I exaggerate. But when we put up the first pictures of the cottage, and our good friend Walter saw them, he sent us email. He was very concerned about the supports. We were able to reassure him – my brother is a civil engineer, like him, and he knew about the problem and in fact it was one of the first things he fixed. The picture below is the before picture. If you look closely, you can see one of the wood beams getting very close to the edge of the support.


He also decided to level the cottage last year. Since he wanted to add some windows and replace patio doors, it needed to be leveled. So, a little at a time, he shored up each post and made the cottage level.

Then this year, after he replaced the patio doors, he was under the cottage and realized that the whole cottage was leaning out further. He figured that the load on the supports had changed, and as a result, the “piers” it was resting on started to lean out. He hadn’t thought of this happening, and I think he was a little upset because it diverted him from his other plans. He now had to put everything on hold until he could figure out what to do.

He spoke briefly about building a basement under the cottage (something he’d love to have), but it’s far too expensive. Then he started making plans to dig out the piers and straighten them out. I could tell it was plaguing him, he was thinking of it constantly. (It’s a thing we Perrella’s do — we worry over a problem, almost consumes us, until we’ve got a solution.)

At some point I realized he had stopped talking about it, and so I asked him how that was going. And he said, “Oh, I’ve got that worked out”. And he sent me these pictures. Jeez.

Cottage Support

He’s been calling this one the “Leaning Pier of Tony”. This one looked pretty frightening to me.

Leaning pier of Tony

He says this will hold the cottage steady through the winter and heavy snows, and he’ll have to dig out the piers and re-set them vertically next year.

Any of you civil engineers out there have some advice??