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Wine Production












When you think of winemaking you tend to picture two ladies stomping grapes with their bare feet. But there is actually more to wine making. Making wine can be relatively simple; but making good wine is pretty difficult, making good quality wine is very difficult.

Throughout the years the production has continuously been innovated to increase the quality of the wine. People realized that by intervening at certain times, they could make a wine with more predictable characteristics. Today there are hundreds of different varieties of wines produced all over the world matching the hundreds of different grapes grown in countries such as Argentina, Australia, France, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Chile, United States and South Africa.

The production of wine is basically the result of a series of natural events which begin with fermentation. The natural yeasts on the grape skins convert the sugar in the juice to alcohol. The basic chemistry is simple, but making fine wine involves such basics as the ripeness of the grapes when harvested, whether the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation called malolactic fermentation, and whether the young wine is aged in new or used oak barrels and for how long, or whether it is aged in oak at all. Ok, this is getting too complicated. So let's look at the production of each type of wine seperately.


Red & White wine production

For red wine production, red or black grapes are used in contact with their skin. It is the skin that gives the wine the color and the body.

In the stemmer crusher, the name says it all, the stems are removed and the grapes are crushed to expose them to the yeast for fermentation. The yeast turns the sugar primarily into Carbon Dioxide and Alcohol. After fermentation the juice and the grape solids, which is called “the must” needs to macerate, which is basically sitting and picking up flavor, color and tannins. Afterwards the juice portion of the must is settled into barrels. Some red wines go through a secondary fermentation process, the Malo-Lactic Fermentation. This process decreases the acid in the wine and softens the taste of the wine.

As opposed to the red wine production, the grape skin plays no further role during white wine production. Occasionally white wines are made from red grapes; In that case, the juice is carefully extracted from the grape without making any contact with the skin. The overall white wine production is perceived as easier than red wines. Well actually white wine requires special care and attention.

After the harvest, it is important that the grapes arrive at the winery unbroken and not crushed. Any accidental breaking will cause loss of essential aromas. Once arrived at the factory, the grapes are lightly crushed and the stem is removed. In the press the juice is extracted from the grape and gathered in containers. Since the skin is not included in the fermentation, the juice has to stand up to twelve hours to allow, skins and pips to rise to the surface.

Once they are removed the fermentation begins. Yeast is added and the fermentation continues for one to four weeks. One of the most important factors during the fermentation process is the steady cool temperature of the tank to preserve the subtle characteristics of the fruit. Current inventions such as temperature-controlled stainless steel fermentation tanks have made it possible to produce white wine in warm weather countries. However, some winemakers prefer to use old oak barrels for fermentation, this will make a fuller-body wine and it will absorb some of the characteristics of the oak. It’s very important at all stages for the grapes to have as little contact with oxygen as possible.

Sparkling wine production

Sparkling wine production is a complex process that has been employed for centuries in the Champagne region of France. Its production is the same as still wines, however at the end of the production ten different still wines are combined to make a base wine for the sparkling final product. All the chosen wines need to be neutral, very acidic and low in alcohol. The complexity of this production starts with the group of experts who have to carefully select the combination of still wines and imagine the transformation of these wines into sparkling wine. The final product will have to obtain the identifiable style of the producer. Once the base wine is assembled, it undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle, trapping carbon dioxide and giving it bubbles.

Fortified wine production

Fortified wine production has the same steps as other wine production up until the fermentation. The fermentation is prematurely stopped by adding alcohol in order to reduce the activity of yeast, while keeping residual sugar that will contribute to wine's sweetness. The alcohol added to the wine is usually Brandy. If spirit is added during fermentation, it will keep some of the residual sugar in the wine and a Port will result. When the spirit is added at the end of fermentation, a dry Sherry will be made. Fortified wines can be either sweet or dry.

Sweet wine production

Among the most sought wines of the world, capable of conquering the heart and soul of people, even of those who are not interested or drink wine, are sweet wines. Sweet wines differ themselves from regular wines by the quantity of sugars dissolved in the wine which is not transformed in alcohol during the fermentation, this called the residual sugar.