Aaron Pott, owner and winemaker at Pott Wines, shared video of him doing punch downs. You might ask, what is a punch down anyway? In the early stages of winemaking, as the grapes start fermenting, winemakers will leave the grape skins in contact with the juice to extract color and tannin.
A “punch down” refers to the physical act of pushing the grape skins that have risen to the top, forming a hard cap, to the bottom again using a punch down tool. The idea is the break the cap, and keep mixing the solids back into the liquids during fermentation. This helps improve taste, color and body in the wine.
It’s hard labor and the winemaking team will do this several times a day based on the winemakers preference. In general, this takes place for several weeks until the solids start to sink instead of float to the top as the fermentation slows.