You can make wine, grape juice, jam, jelly or preserves by squeezing your own grapes in a homemade grape press. These are easy to make, according to Sue Gates, who has a winery near Madison, Wisconsin. She made small grape presses for many years, before getting an expensive grape press.
Build a crank press for your grapes. You need a crank-operated vice to make this type of homemade press. Measure the flat portions of your vice, the ones that are used to clamp onto things. Cut two blocks of wood that are the same size as the flat pieces of your vice. Use screws or wood glue to attach these pieces to your vice, and then set it up on the side of a big collection barrel. You can crank handfuls of grapes in this vice press. Simply place them between the wood, crank them shut, and allow the pieces to fall into the barrel.
Make a large press if you plan on pressing lots of grapes to make wine or juice. Get a large, flat barrel to put your grapes in. Make a press by cutting a piece of plywood into a 4 x 4-foot square. Take a broom handle, a five-foot length of 2 x 4 or another long stick, and screw it to the middle of the plywood. You can operate this by standing above the barrel and lowering the plywood sheet into the barrel. Press down on your stick to press the grapes.
By far the best type of grape press is one that you don't even have to make. For centuries, people stomped grapes with their feet to release the juices. Place your grapes in a big barrel that has a mesh bottom, and place a collection barrel underneath. Then, wash and sterilize your feet, and get stomping. This creates the best juice, and lots of winery owners, include Gates, maintain that this is the best way to press your grapes.
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