|Grapes that typically mature and ripen more slowly come out with more intense varietal character and complexity. In California, each year is considered a “vintage year.” [Photo courtesy of thepinesvineyard.com]|
Winemaking is not just an art. It is an exact science that relies on timing, calculation and the winemaker’s creativity. Wines are made from the fermented juice of the highest quality grapes. The grapes must be harvested at the right time, when the fruit reaches the right balance of sugar and acid for the particular wine it intends to bottle--grapes picked too early will have too much acid; those harvested too late will have too much sugar.
|Climate and temperature also play very important factors in determining the quality and balance of the grape’s components, including sugar, acid, tannin, color, pigments, flavour and aroma [Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com]|
By the time the grapes are harvested from the fields and transported to the Winery, the growers have realized the full potential of the grape and thus, are able to supply the winemaker with the best raw material possible. Then the actual winemaking process begins.
First, the grapes are crushed and de-stemmed in order to burst the fruit and cause them to release their juice and separate the fruit from the stems.
After crushing and de-stemming, the juice from the grapes is put into the fermentation vats, where alcoholic fermentation or the conversion of sugar into alcohol and carbonic acid takes place. Fermentation is a natural biochemical process that involves the excretion of enzymes by yeast into equal amounts of alcohol and carbonic acid.
After fermentation, the wines are aged in either the steel vats, where flavors can be induced by the winemaker, or in the oak barrels, with natural flavor influence from the trees. After ageing and prior to bottling, the wines are fined and filtered to help stabilize and clarify them.
Bottling or binning is the last stage, where the wines are bottled in a sterile environment and sealed. It is important that the grapes be processed and manufactured at the same time they are harvested and picked to assure that the antioxidants and the health benefits from the skin of the grapes are preserved.