From Grapes to Glass
9th November 2018
You love wine and everything that comes with it. But have you ever wondered how it goes from grapes to glass?
Whether you’re in the Swan Valley, Western Australia or Bordeaux, France, there are 5 main stages to wine making – We share them with you today.
1. The Harvesting
Fine wine requires the grapes to be harvested at the perfect time.
How do winemakers know when is the perfect time to harvest? With a combination of science and old-fashioned tasting.
Harvesting can be done mechanically or by hand. Many vineyards prefer to hand harvest, as mechanical harvesters can sometimes be too tough on the grapes.
For premium conditions, grape picking begins at dawn and ends early on hot summer days in the Swan Valley.
2. The Crushing
For thousands of years, men and women performed the ‘harvest dance’ in barrels and pressers to crush the grapes – The time-honored tradition of stomping or trodding the grapes into what is commonly referred to as must.
Today, much of the fun-loving ritual has disappeared from the wine making process, with mechanical crushes performing the duty instead.
As sad as that may seem, mechanical pressing has in fact improved the quality and longevity of wine, while reducing the winemaker’s need for preservatives.
3. The Fermenting
Fermenting is perhaps the most magical part of the wine making process.
What does this magical part do? Simply put, fermentation is where the sugar converts into alcohol.
There are many technologies and techniques used during this process, with the one used being dependent on the grape.
The fermenting stage includes:
- Red Wine: Carbon dioxide is released during fermentation which causes the grape skins to rise to the surface. Winemakers must punch down or pump over the “cap” several times a day to keep the skins in contact with the juice.
- White Wine: Yeast is added to the vats so that fermentation can take place.
4. The Ageing
Like the fermenting, the ageing stage too, has lots of choices for winemakers and their choice will depend on the style of wine they wish to create.
The main wine ageing choices are:
- Ageing for several years vs. several months
- Ageing in stainless steel vs. oak
- Ageing in new oak vs. ‘neutral’ or used barrels
- Ageing in various levels of ‘toasted’ barrels
5. The Bottling
The final stage of the wine making process involves the bottling of wine. The winemaker has the choice of bottling a wine immediately, or they can give a wine additional ageing.
Further, ageing can be done in bottle, stainless steel or ceramic tanks, large wooden ovals, or small barrels, commonly called barriques.
The choices and techniques employed in this final stage of the process are nearly endless, as are the end results.
Now that you know that 5 main stages of the wine making process, are you ready to have a go at making your own?
The Swan Valley has a range of Masterclasses available, from ‘Make your own wine’ at Sandalford, to the ‘Wine 101 – Wine Appreciation Class’ at Upper Reach.
Why not try your hand at wine making today?
Want someone to take you there? Book a Swan Valley Wine Tour with Top Gun Tours today!
Education Wines and tagged
Grapes to Glass, Swan Valley, Wine Making on 9th November 2018.
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