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Grape Treading and Winepress, Fundamental Elements in Traditional Harvesting and Winemaking

Until quite recently, grape treading had been relegated to small wine cellars and family businesses. However, given the touristic interest that grape stomping is causing amongst wine lovers, this aspect of the most traditional winemaking has resurfaced in the past few years.

Grape treading has been a clear referent and a distinctive feature of traditional harvesting, given that is was a paramount labour when the first wine growers’ villages started elaborating their first wines.

Subsequently, these early wine growers realised that stomping could be carried out more efficiently if it was performed at specific rhythms. Therefore, they decided to bring in background music, making the treading moment a total party.

It is a truly enlightening experience that triggers almost every sense in your body at the same time, as participants enjoy the music coming along with the task, admire the vineyard’s scenery, relish the feeling of the grapes under their feet, appreciate the liquid sensation of must and savour the aromas that the grapes start to release.

Treading is a traditional labour that used to be performed during the harvest period and that consists in stomping the grapes inside a winepress or large wood recipient in order to extract the grape wine or must. This way, the must comes out through a small opening and, at the same time, the pulp is separated from the stalks and skins of the grapes.

The technique used to stomp the grapes depends greatly on the customs and culture in each area, but there a series of non-written rules. On the one side, the stomping must start from the centre and move towards the sides of the winepress. This is done so that the pressure exerted on the grains is enough to extract the must without losing any of its properties. This allows and favours the must being in direct contact with the yeasts, which are responsible for starting the fermentation process. On the other side, treading can be done barefoot, probably the most well-known manner given its spotlight in so many beautiful scenes from infinite movies, but it can also be done with rubber boots.

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