It all starts with grapes on the vine: and it’s important that these are properly ripe. Not ripe enough, or too ripe, and the wine will suffer. The grapes as they are harvested contain the potential of the wine: you can make a bad wine from good grapes, but not a good wine from bad grapes.
- Pick the grapes – Most vineyards will start with white grapes and then move to red varietals. The grapes are collected in bins or lugs and then transported to the crushing pad. This is where the process of turning grapes into juice and then into wine begins
- Crush the grapes – This is typically done mechanically in a crusher, which performs exactly as it sounds. The stem are discarded leaving a mixture of juice, seeds, pulp and skins, called “grape must”. The skins and seeds give wine tannins, which are polyphenols that give wines that structure and complexity to age. You may experience tannin as a dryness in your mouth with a very young wine whose tannins are still very strong. The grape skins also give red wines their colour and some of their flavour. White wine juice has only a short period of contact with the skins and seeds before being pressed to extract all of their remaining juice. Rose wines are made from red grapes when the skin is allowed to have enough contact with the juice to tint the colour from white to pink. Once all of the juice has been extracted, it is filtered and prepared for fermentation.
- Ferment the grapes into wine – There are plenty of techniques and technologies used during this process to accompany the different kinds of grapes. In order to being fermentation, yeast is added to the juice and begins the process of converting the natural sugars in the fruit to alcohol. Fermenting can take place in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels, or sometimes both.
- Age the wine – Winemakers have lots of choices in this step and they all depend on the kind of wine one wants to create. Flavours in a wine become more intense due to several of these winemaking choices: aging for several years vs several months, aging in stainless steel vs oak…
- Bottle the wine – Before bottling, wine often goes through a finishing process to stabilize the product, filter out sediments, and prevent oxidation or spoilage.
- Ferment the grapes into wine – red and white wines: yeast is added to the vats so that fermentation can take place.