Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Automatic Wine

Brook, vine, grill, windmill, axle, cage, weight, cane, waterwheel, buckets, stirling engine, wax, mule. That simple.
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Where a merry brook burbles its way through the valley there grows a sturdy vine. The roots of the vine quench the plant's thirst out of the splashing water as it passes.

Beneath the vine, imagine a grill resplendent with precision cut holes the size of grapes. Above the grill, quite naturally, there is a windmill. When the wind blows, the vast wooden vanes of this traditionally built stone windmill creak into action and turn, admittedly not very fast. Attached to the windmill there is an axle, and attached to the axle there is a cage gear, and resting upon the cage gear there is a weighted cane.

As should be obvious by now, the turning of the windmill turns the axle which turns the cage which causes the cane to flick forwards and back. The springyness of the cane means that it flicks further than from where it started, momentarily, but just long enough to give the vine a particularly firm thrash.

All ripe grapes respond to thrashing by plummeting to the earth. They fall through the grill and onto a small grinding apparatus powered by a small waterwheel (more on that later). The newly battered grape is now prone to releasing its precious juices, which it does, and they fall into the bucket of the waterwheel below. It now becomes evident to the casual observer that this slowly-turning water wheel is actually powered by grape juice.

A stirling engine sits above the whole apparatus. It places its posterior within the babbling brook, and its head is painted jet black and aligned towards the sun. It powers a small heating coil which acts to melt wax, dripping smoothly from the side and spreading to seal the bucket once it is full and on the descent. The side of the bucket allows gas exchange.

As the buckets reach the bottom, they automatically decouple and, under the momentum of the waterwheel, pick up a new bucket instead. The bucket-line, meanwhile, progresses perpendicuar to this to place a new bucket ready for pickup, and it does this by means of gravitation-powered sliding.

The deposited waterwheel bucket, containing fresh grape juice and the odd bit of grape skin, sealed with wax, but with a gas-permeable side panel, continues to slide downwards until it reaches a hollow cellar in the side of the hill across which the merry brook burbles.

Once a year, the owner takes his trusty mule and visits the automatic wine plant, replenishes the stock of waterwheel-buckets awaiting filling with the year before's empties, and removes all the wine which has been perfecting itself from last year. He may need multiple trips to do this as his mule cannot carry more than thirty four buckets at a time, and then only if he walks.

vincevincevince, Nov 19 2007

Automatic, for the people http://en.wikipedia...atic_for_the_People
[normzone, Nov 19 2007]

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       Automatic, for the people.
4whom, Nov 19 2007

       //for the people// I'm afraid not, this is a wholly private system for the benefit for The Owner.
vincevincevince, Nov 19 2007

       I hope the automated system has an automated way of keeping bits of bugs and things from becoming part of the blend. Then of course, the French never did have that...
RayfordSteele, Nov 19 2007

       Was my mistake the word automatic? Is it an inside joke that this refers to a song?   

       Bugs and things should expire quite well once sealed under the wax and assaulted by growing alcohol concentrations.
vincevincevince, Nov 19 2007

       [vince^3], perhaps he's suggesting the wine should be public domain?
Spacecoyote, Nov 20 2007

       I like this even better as an civic service. Some alternate-history CCC could have built these all over the country, in city parks, in scenic areas, etc. Hikers would occasionally stumble across a long-forgotten automatic winery in a national park with buckets and buckets of wine of uncertain quality.
wiml, Nov 21 2007

       //All ripe grapes respond to thrashing by plummeting to the earth. //   

       No, sorry. Grapes have to be cut from the vine. The person who *does* invent an automatic vinyard will be very rich indeed.
jtp, Nov 21 2007

       //Grapes have to be cut from the vine.// Are you sure? Optimum winemaking ripeness might require cutting, but I've had plenty of ripe (what you might call overripe) grapes fall from a vine in the past. They fall about the time the skin starts to split / wrinkle and the wild yeasts are going crazy.
vincevincevince, Nov 21 2007

       //Optimum winemaking ripeness might require cutting//   

       Quite. I'm not sure what quality wine you'd get if you used over-ripe grapes. I'll talk to a vintner tonight and get the facts. Watch this space...
jtp, Nov 21 2007

       Mechnical harvesting by beating the vine is widely practiced. However, the automatic determination of when the grapes should be harvested is going to be somewhat tricky. Grapes mature differently from season to season.
4whom, Nov 21 2007

       Some comments:   

       1) Wild yeasts may make an acceptable vinegar but will almost certainly not make a palatable wine.   

       2) Gas-permeable = oxidation = bad wine or vinegar. Fermentation and a traditional air-lock arrangement keeps the wine under a blanket of C02, thus little or no oxidation   

       3) Sanitation is important in making a good wine.   

       4) Too much skin and other stuff will impart off flavours to the wine.
webfishrune, Nov 23 2007


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