Saturday, April 18, 2015

From Rust to Riches

I think it is about time we really pay homage to our hard work that we have put into getting the wine making side of our operation into full swing.  When we first started making beer we began with kits, and extracts to get the job done.  Same went with wine making.  Fruit concentrates and juice cans were used.  The occasional mead was made and a couple ciders out of canned/bottled apple juice.  Then we moved on to squeezing the fruit by hand.  That was just more work than it was worth.  So the obvious most logical step, just as we went from extract to all-grain in brewing, we needed to go from juice kits and concentrates to pressing.

The search for the wine press was on.  It had to be cheap and it had to work.  A little TLC was no problem.  You can buy a wine press new for anywhere from $275-$1000 or more depending on your needs.  We just needed something that worked.  Months and months of scouring craigslist and nothing fit the bill.  Then one day in 2012, this popped up.

A Beraducci Bros. C3-4 Model that was $75 and needed work.  The guy asked me what I was going to use it for, and I told him,"To make wine!"  He was flabbergasted and just said,"With this?!!?".  Yes, because even though it didn't look like much with cobwebs, rust, and the screw was stuck, I could see in my mind what it could become.

The first step was to dismantle, and sandblast.  Luckily, Antonio's dad knew a guy with a sandblaster and said he could do it for free.  That was huge in keeping the bill down, I had made contacts with other people and the fee ranged from $35-$75 to get the job done.  Here is what it looks like taken apart and can already see the beauty coming out.

Looking for parts for this press is terrible.  Do not try.  The company, Beraducci Bros., went out of business a long time ago.  I was missing the handle to turn the press down the screw and one side latch to keep the press closed, the previous owner just used wire....

I went ahead and searched online and went to and ordered some of their Gondola Red paint.  This is a special paint that can withstand acidity and is also food safe.  I called around prior to Sherwin-Williams/paint stores and no one was of any help.  The shipping cost was either the same or more expensive then the paint...but if I am going to do something like this, I am going to do it right.  I couldn't find any other dealers of this paint, so I went with PiWine.

I painted three coats with the help of Antonio and my wife.  It was messy, and basement floor hates me, but here are the finished results.....and in action!

A screw and wing nut can be seen on the bottom right of the basket.  The original owner lost the lock piece and was just using wire. 

A base made out of 2x4 and OSB was fabricated for the press to bolt down upon.  It is 8'x4'.  Yeah, it is huge, a bit heavy, but it allows for a person, or two, to comfortably stand on and pull the rod around the press to squeeze the fruit.  A person on each side, makes the job quick and easy.  The next mods would have to be adding handles to the outsides of the base for easier transportation followed by a latex paint job to help eliminate moisture problems with the OSB.

As you can see, the wood was numbered.  This was done prior to sandblasting to ensure everything went back into its original place.  We also opted for a metal rod instead of a wooden rod for durability reasons.  The ridges on the rod are originally there for screw purposes, but for us it helps to add friction and hold the rod snuggly in place.  Gloves or towel are optional, but it does help to not tear up your hands. 2x4 blocks that we had laying round became our press blocks.  I do not expect them to last long, some started splintering that day, but they got the job done and I am happy with that outcome.

The base plate of the press is beautiful and easy to clean.

As you can see in the pictures, we had a great day.  One cyser, one blackberry, and one pear wine was made.  Clean up was easy with a quick wash down with a wet rag, followed by drying it off and adding mineral oil to the screw rod.

Updates on the wine will come soon, as well as our endeavors at the farm with the hops, grapes, and blackberries, and of course any brewing we do.

Happy Brewing,

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