Men have been producing wine for thousands of years. While drinking a bottle may not last very long, its elaboration process is complicated and needs time!
Wine production can generally be split
Everything starts with harvesting, taking place between August and October - for the Northern hemisphere. To make the decision of harvesting a specific parcel, winemakers taste the grapes to evaluate its balance (sugar vs acidity) and measure grapes’ pH. If harvested too early, grapes will not be mature enough and will not achieve their full aroma potential. On the contrary, a late harvest will create the risk of over maturity (rotten grapes). This step is extremely important and the winemaker’s experience makes everything.
This is however not enough - it is also key to take weather forecasts into account! A winemaker may need to adjust the harvest dates slightly if bad weather is expected. For example, he might want to rush things if there is a potential for strong rain or hail.
Once harvested, grapes are sorted to take out rotten or damaged bits - and only keep healthy ones that will become wine.
Once grapes are sorted and destemmed, they are ready to be crushed and turned into juice.
The must is then put into large vats (stainless steel, concrete... etc) or wooden barrels to start the fermentation process. This is the transformation of sugar into alcohol, carried out by natural yeasts. For an enhanced control, winemakers often use cultured yeasts to help them better predict the process. - This step needs to be watched closely, as the liquid’s temperature may not go over 26°C - this explains why these vats or barrels are “thermoregulated”.
Upon this step, the liquid has no colour yet - don’t panic, it is coming! The colour of a wine is the consequence of skin and pips staying with the juice during “maceration”. This process is different for each type of wine -and it is simply skipped for a white. To make rosé, juice remains in contact with skin and pips for only a few hours (8 to 48). For reds, maceration is a key step and can last up to 3 weeks to achieve a nice colour and enough structure.
Pump over / Punch down
During fermentation, the lighter solid bits go
The juice obtained after clarification is called “young wine” and will be the base of the future wine. The remaining marc is pressed again to obtain the “
This is a really important step of the process. Juices from different grape varieties or different vine plots are usually fermented separately to respect their identity and characteristics. They are then tasted and blended by the winemaker
This step is not carried out for all wines, but it develops aromas further. After fermentation or blending, wine can be put in wooden barrels for several months (usually 3 to 24). Generally made of French oak, this technique provides the wine with additional tannins and flavours to enhance taste, structure and aromas.
During this process, a small part of the wine
Last step of the process - bottling.
You now have a tremendous knowledge of the winemaking process! You’ll be able to impress friends during