On the arrival of the grapes at the press-house, the first thing to be determined upon is whether the stalks are to be used or not. In the case of white wines it is not customary to separate them from the grapes. A good deal, however, will depend upon different circumstances. Thus, when grapes are grown in flat, damp places, or during wet seasons, it is often advantageous to ferment the berries with part of their stems; but, on the contrary, those grapes which contain a sufficiency of tannin will not require the latter. For example, in the production of white wines at Mr. Hans Irvine's ("Great "Western") vineyard in Victoria; the grapes are first crushed with the mill, the mill consisting of two grooved wooden rollers working against each other. After this the skins, together with the stalks, are placed in the wine-press. In the case of red wine, however, the grapes are separated from the stalks by means of an iron griddle, so that only the skins are employed in the formation of the wine.
The methods pursued with regard to the elimination or retention of the grape stalks vary in different parts of the Continent. The most careful vignerons remove the stalks in the case of the finest growths of Burgundy; but in the making of champagne, and also in the Rheingau, from which part come the famous Hock wines, the stalks are allowed to remain. In the Medoc districts, which produce the finest clarets, the stalks are likewise put into the fermentation vat; but this is considered to be a great mistake, since a long time elapses before the astringent taste of the wine subsides. With the far-famed Red Hermitage wine of France, too, the stalks are permitted to pass into the vat, and in the case of sherry and port, as well, the stalks all take part in the fermentation, though it is believed that better results would be obtained by their removal. But in all these old wine-producing countries of Europe the same customs have been followed from time immemorial, and they are not likely to be altered at present.