Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/446

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carriers, bending beneath their heavy loads, mount a ladder to the top of the tub, and by a peculiar twist of the body empty their baskets of grapes into it. Within the tub is a lad, who treads upon the grapes to reduce their bulk, and, in a measure, press out their juice. The cart being loaded, is drawn off by a yoke of oxen to the neighboring press-house. The grapes are next emptied, through an opening in the wall, upon a sloping stone floor, where they are crushed by an ordinary grape-mill, which, however, forces out only a portion of their juice. Formerly the juice was trodden out by the feet of the laborers. It runs down the sloping floor into a covered trough at the lower end, by which it is led into a tank—whence it is emptied into the casks, and then left to ferment.

As already said, the mill does not express all the juice from the grapes, and so the "must" is shoveled through an opening in the wall into a large, shallow trough at the foot of the press. Then it is heaped up in the centre of the trough, into what is called the motte, a form like a millstone, and subjected to powerful pressure. The sides of the motte are now trimmed, the screw loosened, and the trimmings piled on the top, when the pressure is again applied. This process is repeated until the must has been subjected to four pressures. Each pressure lasts about two hours, except the last, which, being generally put on in the evening, continues all night. Next day the must is spread out in the trough, watered from a watering-pot, and raked about in the water for an hour. The water being drawn off, the must is again put under pressure, and the juice obtained is mixed with the water, and the whole put into a cask to ferment.

The must, or juice, obtained from the milling and four previous pressures is put in casks, vats, or cisterns, to ferment, and it is from it that the eau de vie supérieure is obtained. The yield of fermented liquor in good seasons is, in the Grand Champagne, about 900 gallons to the acre; in the Deux Charentes, as a whole, about 500 gallons; and in some parts of the Bon Bois as low as 200 gallons. And, although, as already stated, the vineyards are generally small, crops of 20,000 to 50,000 gallons from particular ones were formerly known.

It is to be observed that the method of fermenting the wine intended for the distillation of brandy differs a little from that pursued with the red wine of the district: the murk being allowed to remain in the juice in the last case, while it is not allowed to do so in the first.

The still comprises a reservoir, with a pump for supplying it from a large stone tank below, and the usual furnace and retort, with head and worm. The average capacity of the stills throughout the Grand Champagne is only about fifty-five gallons at a single operation. The wine to be distilled having been emptied into a square stone tank, already referred to, is pumped into the reservoir, whence, through a tap, it is conveyed into the retort, which is heated with coal, at first