Grape Stomping Anyone?

Pigeage pronounced “peej-AHJE," is the French winemaking term for the traditional stomping of grapes in open fermentation tanks. Grapes are put through a crusher to remove stems and then placed in open fermentation bins. The fruit must be gently crushed to allow the juice to run free from the grape skins but must stay in contact to provide color and tannins. Once fermentation begins, carbon dioxide gases are released and push the grape skins to the surface. This layer of skins and other solids is known as the cap. As the skins are the source of the tannins, the cap needs to be mixed through the liquid each day, or “punched down”.  Traditionally, punching down was done by stomping through the vat, “pigeage."