The Process of Winemaking
Because good wine is hard work.
It all starts with the work in the vineyard where the grapes ripe until their big day - the harvest. But once harvested the work continues, now below the ground in the wine cellar, with different process steps required before a wine ultimately ends up in the bottle.Below we tried to provide some insights into the work of a wine maker and to shed some light onto how the magic happens.
Step 1: Work in the Vineyard
The old wood is pruned away, a procedure that definitely influences the potential yield and ultimately, the quality of the wine. Quality-conscious growers generally reduce the number of canes per vine to two short ones or one long one.
Before bud-burst, the vine's shape takes form through bending and tying the canes in order to ensure an adequate nutrient supply to the shoots. Plowing and seeding for green covering, as well as the natural growth of plants in the vineyard, brings the soil to life.
Removing unwanted shoots promotes growth. Growers also prune clusters in order to reduce yield and thus, improve quality. Between June and August, a thick leaf wall develops that is kept in shape by tying or binding the shoots. Leaf pruning also regulates the height of the vine. Thinning out some of the pea-sized berries strengthens those left on the bunch and improves the quality.
Ripening and Harvest
Starting late summer, the grapes clearly begin to ripen. The amount of sugar in the berries rapidly increases as the acidity decreases (particularly the malic acid; the tartaric acid is retained).
When a wine is ripe for harvest depends mainly on the type of grape and the weather.
Take a look at how much fun we had at this year's harvest!
Step 2: Winemaking in the cellar
Right after the harvest
Pressing the grapes
The grapes are first pressed gently. The berries are crushed, creating the so-called ‘mash’.
For white or rosé wines, the mash is pressed shortly thereafter. For red wine, the mash is fermented or warmed before it is pressed. By pressing the mash, the winemaker obtains the must that still contains sediment.
x - x Weeks
The must is stored in barrels or tanks and begins to ferment there. Fermentation is started by yeasts, which are a natural component of the grapes and juice. Alcohol and carbonic acid are formed from the conversion of the grapes’ fruit sugar.
After fermentation is complete, the yeast settles on the bottom of the fermentation tank and the clear wine is carefully removed from this sediment. This process is called racking, after which the wine is most often sulfurized to protect it from oxidation.
After a certain time, the very last yeast residues and microscopic particles can be filtered out in one or two steps. The wine is now clear and ready to be bottled.
Depending on the quality, it can age there for years or even decades as alcohol, acidity and residual sweetness conserve the wine in a natural way. This last stage of creating a top-quality wine requires patience. But as the saying goes: anticipation is the greatest joy!