Making wine involves six basic steps:
5. Ageing and Clarifying
The focuses on the biology of the grapevine. Good wine ultimately comes from good grapes and a great wine is made in the vineyard. Each grape variety is unique in the way it grows, the way it looks, and the flavours it possess. Climate, soil, hours of sunlight, water drainage and topography all influence fruit quality and are the key factors that make each vineyard unique. Terroir, "from the earth"is a term the French use to describe how these natural factors are ultimately expressed in each wine. It is then up to the vineyard manager to decide how he works and manipulates the vines in the environment so that true terroir is expressed in each glass. At Harvest the vitculturist and winemaker go out into the vineyards and assess when is the best time is to pick. This is determined on how grapes look, their, flavour, sugar content, acid level, colour development.
When the approval is given to pick, a winery can harvest the grapes by hand picking each cluster or mechanically using specially designed grape harvesters. The picked grapes are then taken to the winery for the next step.
When the grapes arrived they pass through a special machine called a crusher destemmer. At this stage the grapes are separated from the stems and the berries are slightly crushed to release some of the juice from the fruit. It is here where the winemaker decides to send the must (crushed fruit and juice) to a tank for cold soaking (a method to extract flavours and pull colour from the skins), into a tank for red wine fermentation or to directly into a press (to extract only the juice for white wine fermentation). The press will then separate the juice from the fruit.
This is the stage where all the magic begins. Fermentation is the process in which yeast convert sugar (naturally present in the grape juice) and convert it to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Most wineries use selected commercial yeast which all have unique reaction in how they produce flavours in the wine. Other wineries take more of a holistic approach and use natural/wild yeast that is naturally present on the bloom of the grapes and in the winery. Fermentation can take as short as 10 days to or as long as 100 days, it all depends on how the winemaker chooses.
Aging and Clarification:
Once the fermentation process is finished, time is required for the wine to settle and evolve. This can happen in barrel and /or tank. With time new flavour nuances develop, the natural sediments and spent yeast will drop out, and the winemaker will use their skills to bring out the best in a wine. Once the wine is stabilized, the next stage is to clarify the wine. This can be done through various filtration methods. Clarification techniques are performed not only for visual reasons but also to ensure that the wine is stable and ready for the long haul in the bottle.
The final stage is to transfer the finished wine into a container. Wineries have the choice of what shape, type, colour of glass they can use to bottle their wine. The type of wine closure is also specific to how the winery wants to market their wine.