This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The presses are constructed in buildings and vary in size; they are tanks about twenty feet square, and two to three feet deep, built of massive stone work, and raised considerably from the ground. The tonels or casks into which the wine is run sometimes hold thirty pipes. They are generally in a lower building, so that the wine may run off from the press by a channel into them. Above the press is a vast beam, weighed down by a heavy stone, intended, by placing boards beneath it, to press the last remaining juice from the husks. Into the press the baskets of grapes are emptied as they are brought in, while a bare-legged urchin stands in the middle, and with a rake levels the bunches, and another picks out the bare stems or chance poor grapes, etc.
The grapes are sometimes separated from the stems, but the latter arc said, in good seasons, in no way to injure the delicacy of the wine; and if the astringent quality so much admired in Port wine is desired, they are necessary; besides, they assist to aid fermentation. The mashing and pressing the grapes is performed by twenty or thirty of the men getting into the vat or tank with their trowsers' legs rolled up, and dancing, keeping time to the music of fifes, fiddles, and drums. The grapes are thus trodden under foot for two, three, and four successive days, with intervals only of six hours, or till the juice is supposed to be thoroughly expressed and the skin well bruised to extract the color, for it is in the skin alone the color is found. The wine is then allowed to ferment with the husks for about the same length of time, according to the greater or less degree of saccharine matter. The must, as the juice is termed, is then drawn off into the tonels, and brandy is added, when it is carefully sealed up till the winter.
The husks are now pressed, and the liquid is designed for the use of the laborers, or for making into brandy.
Fig. 42. - The Wine Press.
The Lagrima Christi, a delicious white wine, is made from the first juice run from the grape without pressing the skin. The impression of some persons, that pure Port wine has had no addition of brandy, it seems has no foundation; for not only is brandy added at the time of pressing, but afterward, before it is shipped, the merchant treats it to a little more delicate brandy, claiming that such is requisite to its keeping and retaining the characteristics desired.
The grapes grown on the Douro from which Port wine is produced, become, when hung up in the sun, perfect masses of sugar, and give to the wine a rich fruity flavor.