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How to Choose a Crusher Destemmer

11/30/-1

Destemmers and Crushers

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The Crusher-Destemmer, Destemmer-Crusher and Destemmer-Only are machines that are used to separate the grapes themselves from the stems and then to split open the grape in order to get at the sugary juice inside that is going to be fermented. This type of machine is generally has 3 different functional areas. First is the reception hopper where you dump the grapes and where they are fed to the next section of the machine. The next two areas can be in either order, or in some cases not even present. The second area is the rollers, which performing the crushing function. There are many different sizes, configurations and materials that can be associated with the rollers. Third is the Destemming area, which is often also referred to as the Destemming Basket or Destemming Cage. The Destemming area basically consists of a stainless steel drum / basket which is perforated.  Inside this drum there is a bar with paddles on it, called the beater or destemming shaft, spinning.  The spinning of this bar pushes the grapes against the stainless drum where the perforations separate the grapes from the stems.  There are basically these three configurations for the machines, their basic function is always apparent from the name:

Crusher-Destemmer: Less expensive machines used primarily on the home winemaking level.  Like the name suggests, Crusher-Destemmers first crush the whole bunch of grapes then separate the stems from the fruit.  This design is much less expensive toproduce, but has the disadvantage of passing the stems through the crushing rollers before the destemming takes place.  This can cause some extraction of harsher flavors from the stems, and is less efficient at separating all the stem content out of the grapes, meaning more stem winds up in the fermenter. These machines cost between $350 and $1200.

Destemmer-Crusher: This the commercial-style configuration for destemming and crushing equipment.  The advantage is that the grapes are separated from the stems but kept intact in the process.  This prevents the stems from being passed through the rollers as well as making the destemming more efficient, which generally is going to yield a higher quality must and therefore a better wine. The grapes are also treated more gently in the process, which causes less bruising and extracts less tannin during processing. Destemming first also has the added advantage of allowing the grapes to be sorted on a sorting table to remove any final bugs, stems, leaves or anything else (referred to as MOG for Material Other than Grapes that you don't want in the fermenter, without losing any of the precious juice in the process. These machines start at about $8500.

Destemmer-Only: A few of our in-between priced machines are Destem-Only machines, meaning they completely lack rollers. These machines have a fairly rough destemming action, and therefore tend to crack open the grapes even though they don't have rollers. Because the grapes aren't fully crushed before the destemming takes place, destemming is more efficient and yields a higher quality must than Crushing-Destemming does. Additionally, these machines have integrated must pumps which are essentially a paddle wheel inside a housing.  Between the rougher destemming and the must pump the customer will not wind up with any whole grapes in their must.  This is a great alternative for a small winery which is looking for a higher quality end-product without the higher cost of a proper Destemmer-Crusher.  These machines start at about $2500.


Selection Process

When it comes to choosing the right crushing/destemming machine the first thing to determine is how much fruit you are working with. You want to base the decision off of the largest single lot of grapes you're going to try to process  not the total amount that you're going to do in a year.  Below is a breakdown of how much fruit the machines can process in an hour.  The numbers that you see for this listed in the our catalog and web descriptions are the manufacturers' stated throughputs for the processors - the values below are a little bit more "real world."  Generally speaking you want to be able to process the entire lot of fruit in 4-5 hours, as set up and clean up will take up the rest of an 8-10 hour work day.  The only exception to this is the WE270 hand-cranked models, which get real old to work with after about an hour.

WE270, WE270PS Hand Crank Machine -      about 1000lb/hr
WE273PS, WE273S Motorized Machines -     about 1700-2000 lb/hr
WE286 Destemmer Only -                             about 2 tons/hr
WE287 Destemmer Only -                             about 3 tons/hr
Commercial Destemmer-Crushers -                from 5-25 tons/hr


Once you have established the correct style of machine, you'll may need to consider the differences between 2 similar models.  Our WE270 and WE273 Series Crusher Destemmers each come in two different styles: WE270 & WE270PS are the hand cranked models, and WE273PS and WE273S are the motorized models.

 

Construction Materials

The regular WE270 is made from mild steel that has been enamel coated.  Over time the acidity from the grape juice will wear out the enamel, eventually exposing the raw steel underneath and causing it to rust. We have not to date been able to source a food-grade enamel or paint to repair these areas. Additionally, the painted surface will retain more of the tartrates from the grape juice, which wind up leaving a while scaling on the surface of the machine.  While not harmful, this is unsightly to some  The destemming basket on this machine is Stainless Steel.

The "PS" stands for "Partially Stainless".  This means that the hopper that you dump the grapes into, the agitator inside the hopper, the shroud that covers the destemming area and the destemming shaft are all made from stainless steel  basically all of the parts that come in contact with the grapes.  Only the main body of the machine is made from painted steel. This makes the machine easier to clean and longer lived. We carry both manual and motorized Partially Stainless Crusher Destemmers.

The "S" in our WE273S signifies that the machine is made entirely from stainless steel. This is therefore our most durable, longest lived and easiest to clean model in this range. Because of the higher cost of producing the stainless steel body, we only offer this style in a motorized model.

Rollers

There is also a difference between the styles of rollers on these two machines.   Because the rollers are what do the actual crushing, this is actually an important difference.  The WE270 has hard nylon rollers whereas the WE270PS has rubber rollers.  They are also shaped differently (see below).  Effectively the rubber rollers are gentler on the fruit and extract less tannin into the must.

The main difference between these two machines is in construction materials.  As with the WE270 series machines, the "PS" in WE273PS stands for "Partially Stainless." The "S" model is made entirely from stainless steel.  Both machines are equipped with rubber rollers.

WE286 vs WE287
Besides the increase in output capacity that these machines represent, there are a couple of other reasons that a small winery, or even an advanced home winemaker, might choose to go this route.  First, as mentioned above, they are more effective at removing stems from the must because the grapes are destemmed while they are still intact.  Second, both of these machines have integrated must pumps which allow the must to be transferred to the fermenter automatically during processing.

Once we reach this level of machine we are dealing entirely with stainless steel construction.   There are a few main differences between the WE286 and the WE287:

  • The WE287 is capable of processing about 3 tons of grapes per hour, where the WE286 can only do 2 tons per hour.
  • The WE287 is a centrifugal machine, which means that both the destemming shaft and the basket are turning inside it.  This allows for even gentler destemming and reduces the potential for clogging the destemming area.


Commercial Destemmer-Crushers
If you require the premium level processing capability and the throughput capacity of a fully commercial Destemmer-Crusher, please have a look at our line of Miros processing equipment from Italy on our MoreWine! Pro website.

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