Harvest 101 at the winery

September 25, 2013

I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this you enjoy wine. In fact, you may even love wine and you might drink a lot of it but have you ever wondered what is really involved in making a perfect glass of wine? I’m fairly new to learning about the winemaking process and the more I learn the more curious I become. Of course, we’ve all heard about or even seen the iconic picture/re-run of I Love Lucy stomping the grapes in that oversized barrel but the winemaking process is much more complex and interesting than that. In fact, most winemakers consider it not just an experiment but an art.

From grape to glass, the winemaking process varies depending on which wine is being made and when the grapes are ready for harvest. As described by our winemaker, fall is a very crucial time of year for winemaking. Harvest begins very quickly and very sporadically. Growers speculate and decide just when the perfect time is to harvest the grapes and then quickly ship the fresh grapes off to the wineries. Growers seek a balance of sugars, acidity, tannins, and flavors from the grapes. Once the wineries have the fresh grapes they must be processed within hours before they spoil.

If the winemaker is making white wine, the grapes are crushed and the juice goes into tanks where the fresh juice is fermented at cool temperatures to ensure floral aromas and flavors.

However, if it is red wine that is being made, the grapes are crushed and pumped into large fermenters where they ferment with the skins on anywhere between four and twelve days.

We recycle the grape skins after we have used them. The leftover skins are then transported to a local farmer to be used to feed the farm animals.