Our first annual grape harvest.
A country house in Tbilisi with a patio covered by dangling white and red grape bundles and the smell of nature, how romantic does that sound? Lets take that entire romance one step further and let’s make homemade grape juice (or wine if your feeling boozy)!
After a quick search on the Internet, we found out a few ideas on how begin our grape juice making adventure. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what we needed to sanitize, but the basic tools suggestions were helpful. The process seemed rather straightforward. We chose to begin with the white grapes, leaving the purple ones for another stomp.
This was a very DIY process from the beginning. We started with Papa Fish up on the ladder snipping each bundle of grapes, one by one with our handy kitchen scissors. The golden bundles were tossed down to the kids, who then put them in an empty laundry basket for washing. I know how original. I thought the same, as Papa Fish came up with the idea: 1 laundry basket + washing of grapes = a smart-ass grin. You get my sense of humor, right? Anyway, we picked approximately 15 kilos of grapes. Once the basket was full, onto the hose and washing of the grapes. They were then transferred to a large wide plastic washing bucket. Next, the kids could hardly wait! We were on to the fun part, cleaning our feet and stomping the grapes.
One at a time, we rinsed and sanitize the feet and legs of the kids. Once clean, into the grape bucket they went. Deia and Teo stomped away for approximately 1 hour. Well, Deia did. Teo only lasted about 3 minutes. Alejandro (Papa Fish) ladled the juice out of the bucket and filtered it through a colander, then a cotton cloth. This was very tedious and greatly improved for our second stomp. Three hours later, the juice had been thoroughly filtered and poured into jars to be stored in the refrigerator. At first the juice has a dirty moss green like colour. After several hours the moss green settles/disappears and the juice is a amber golden color.
Georgians have several uses for the grape juice and left over pulp from the stomping. Nothing goes to waste here. Vodka is made from the pulp. Maybe next year we will give this a shot. Most commonly the juice is used to make wine. Each Georgian family produces their own wine, which is consumed throughout the year. We have heard many stories as to how much is produced and drank. As one of the oldest wine making countries in the world, these folks don’t mess around. Up to 300 liters of wine is made per family, per year. I know, it makes your jaw drop… me too. Lastly, the juice is also used to make a healthy snack called Churchkhela or the Georgian “snickers”.
In conclusion to our first stomp, there was a lot to learn. Even though the process is quite easy, your DIY tools can make a huge difference in how long it will take to extract and filter the juice. Preparing for our second stomp (four more to go minimum) we made a trip to the hardware store and bought a construction-mixing bucket. Spontaneity was great and a lot of fun, but this time it was all about efficiency. We found several different shapes and sizes of construction mixing buckets. In our case, they were all back and quite economical looking. We opted for a “bath-shaped” like bucket, which is about knee height (for an adult). Papa Fish burnt a hole in the container by heating up a metal tool and burning through the plastic. He then inserted a 2cm transparent garden-like hose for the juice to drain out by itself. He secured the tube by using Gorilla (Duck) Tape on both sides of the whole. During the second stomp we simply placed the upgraded “stomp bucket” on a higher service and let the tube decline into the collider, which was sat on top of a large pot to collect the juice. Brilliant idea,right? Our production was still completely DIY, but a huge time saver and still very fun.
If you would like to try this at home with your children and do not have the luxury of grapes covering your patio, no worries… the process is the same, just buy the grape bundles from your local market and get stomping. Let us know how it went and send us a picture of you and you kids to be highlighted on our website.