King Estate’s renewed focus on smaller-production wines, described in this blog post by Co-Founder and CEO Ed King III, is evident throughout the vineyard and the winery. One example is our new basket press, purchased to enhance our ability to keep small lots separate and thus increase our options for blending later.
First used with the 2018 vintage, this press by Carlsen & Associates of Healdsburg, Calif., is smaller by far than our other presses. Where our four German-made Willmes presses range from five tons to 25 tons, the basket press is designed to process fruit in batches as small as one-half to one ton. Previously we couldn’t separately handle any lots under two tons in even our smallest press because it would damage the membrane.
The basket press may be new to King Estate but the concept behind the equipment is familiar. According to Assistant Winemaker Matt Danner, it operates a lot like an old-fashioned barrel-style apple cider press, just with more bells and whistles. A ram with a hydraulic piston pushes the fruit down and, colander-like, the juice flows out through the holes. The machine can be programmed to operate manually or it can be automated, for example to deliver certain pressure levels for specified time periods.
This year we used the basket press for Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and some reds. It worked especially well on whole cluster berries that were pressed off a second time to release the good juice still trapped inside.
The basket press has gotten a fair amount of use already, Matt says. Most of all it has been successful in giving us more options for crushing, blending and, ultimately, enjoying in the glass.