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I just recently started making wine in 2001. I repair and supply laser printers for a living, and my 5,400 square foot warehouse affords me about 600 feet for winemaking. That space also contains a 100-square foot temperature controlled barrel room. I have set up a small area (another 200 square feet) for woodwork and machine work needed for my innovative winery.
My friend Vic Wolczuk and I have been making wine together for more than 12 years. We consider washing bottles the least enjoyable part of our hobby and recently decided to find an easier way to get it done. When a free portable dishwasher found its way into my hands, we took it as a sign that this was the direction we were meant to go.
The only problem with a dishwasher is it’s designed to clean the outside of bottles, not the inside where it counts to us winemakers. So, Vic and I built a manifold to channel water pumped by the machine into the bottles. The supplies cost us about $100 at a typical home supply store.
Our prototype (Figure 1) has five wash arms and 24 copper spouts fed through a CPVC manifold. The downward elbow mates with the pump takeoff (Figure 2) when the rack is in its operating position.
Every dishwasher will have a different setup for feeding its spray arms, and it’s possible that some may not be easily adapted for this project. We cut off most of the plastic spray arm support to leave just a rim suitable for clamping on a flexible
coupling. The smaller side of the coupling clamps onto a 1-inch (2.6-cm) elbow that feeds the manifold.
On the main arm we used 1-inch (2.6-cm) CPVC piping and fittings, which reduce down to 1/2-inch (1.3-cm) diameter for the wash arms. The bottle spouts are 1/4-inch (0.64-cm) copper, and are roughly 6 inches (15.4 cm) long. This length provides goods support for the bottles and keeps the water outlet above any standing water that might occur as the water tries to drain out, which is particularly a problem with Bordeaux bottles.
To make mounting the copper wash arms easier, we made the spouts with a saddle for soldering onto the wash arm. We cut the spouts into 6 3/8-inch (16.3-cm) lengths and drilled a 3/32-inch (0.24-cm) hole 3/8 inch (0.96 cm) from one end. After splitting the end up to the hole using a hacksaw, we spread apart the two saddle pieces. Then using pliers and a small hammer we flattened and shaped these pieces to fit the curvature of the wash arm (Figure 5) and tinned the pieces to prepare them for soldering. Next we drilled 7/32-inch (0.56-cm) holes into the wash arm at roughly 3 1/4-inch (8.3-cm) intervals to accommodate larger diameter bottles and tinned the area around each hole.
The soldering rig is a clamp locked in a vice. When soldering, the 1/2-inch (1.3-cm) wash arm rests in a V-notched block of wood clamped in the rig (Figure 6), the spout is carefully positioned over the hole, and a clamp is tightened to hold it in place while being soldered. We recommend a 300-watt soldering iron for effective heat transfer. Finally, we soldered an end cap on one end of the wash arm and an adapter onto the other for attaching it to a threaded CPVC fitting.
We friction fit the CPVC socket fittings with suitable lengths of piping and used copper wire to secure the whole assembly, then attached it to the dishwasher rack. We also drilled a small hole into the manifold near the cup to flush out the detergent. We use 40 grams (~ 1/4 cup) of a commercial brewing cleaner called PBW.
When Nancy and I built our retirement home in Perry County, Pen-nsylvania 10 years ago, we had very specific requirements for what we wanted. Most importantly, I wanted a full, below-ground basement — for winemaking and storage of course. Our house is small but has a good-sized basement where temperatures — between 50 ºF (10 ºC) and 60 ºF (16 ºC) — are always perfect for winemaking . We also cold-stabilize by moving the wines outside of the cellar when the temperatures drop below 25 ºF (-4 ºC).
Although our winemaking needs influenced the design of our new home, Nancy and I did not originally envision turning the open fields around the house into vineyards. But when the question arose of what to do with the land that had been lying fallow for some time, grape growing was a natural answer for me. At that time I didn’t know growing grapes from growing roses — but I did know where to go to get the information that I needed.
Over the years I have wanted a way to get away from lifting heavy bottles from the floor, and a way to mix concentrates and splash sanitizers in carboys without having to lift and shake heavy, slippery bottles. A multi-use pump is the perfect solution.
The pump system I made works for mixing concentrates and water, racking from a high spot to a low spot, from a low spot to a high spot, or from two carboys sitting side by side. The pump also works for sanitizing carboys, bottles and other equipment and can also be used during bottling.
Bob Herold was 18 when he started making wine with his dad, but he didn’t get serious about the hobby until six years ago. Since then, he’s won awards at numerous competitions, including the Indy International and the American Wine Society. He has an extensive vineyard of Cayuga, Traminette and St. Croix grapes at his Connecticut home. “Cayuga is very versatile,” says the retired jet-engine builder. “It can be made sweet or dry, or in a Chardonnay style if it’s barrel-aged.”