The basket press is the traditional way of extracting juice or
wine from the grape skins, and is more gentle on the grapes than
Like it sounds, a basket press is essentially a big basket in
which the crushed grapes are loaded into. A flat plate is
lowered down on top of the grapes and presses the liquid out
small holes in the side of the basket. Traditionally the
basket is made from wood, but stainless steel is a more modern
(and easier to clean) option which does exactly the same thing.
Basket presses are quite labour intensive, and most wineries now
use the newer Airbag or tank presses which are much easier to
use. These airbag presses rotate and break up the "cake" of
skins to extract more liquid, and this tends to result in
harsher tannins in the wines.
Basket presses are generally associated with premium red wines
such as Shiraz. We use our basket press for all our wines
- red or white. It is the only press we have, and the only press
For reds it is great because it is more gentle and we get softer
tannins in the wines (all the tannin is in the skins, and is the
drying character in red wines). For whites it is great because
there is a large draining area for the juice to get out really
quickly, and the less time white juice is in contact with skins
the better, because we don't want the tannins.