Have you ever wondered what is involved in getting that wine from the vine into your glass? From the first buds erupting on the vines in spring, to the pouring of that delicious treat into your glass, the process is a long and complicated one. Here we simplify it for you.
A 3-year long university degree if offered on this topic alone so we can only touch on it here! After a few months of dormancy the vines erupt into life with the first bursting of the buds in early spring. Growth of the new “canes” is rapid over the following months so the use of lifting wires and careful trimming is required to keep the vines in check. Spraying is used with care to prevent the growth of fungi and bacteria that would otherwise ruin the fruit. As the grapes start to ripen at the end of summer, nets are placed over the rows to prevent damage from birds.
The sugar content of the grapes is monitored very carefully in the final weeks before harvest. Once a decision is made on the harvest date, the tricky task of coordinating pickers; transport of bins to and from the vineyard and the winery to receive the grapes begins. And hopefully the weather is on-board as well!
White grapes are often picked in the cool of the night and the reds during the day.
Once the grapes arrive at the winery they need to be processed ASAP to prevent them from starting to oxidise and go off. Juice is extracted from the fruit by the use of a large machine called a press.
In the case of whites, the juice is immediately separated from the skins of the berries and pumped into tanks. Red wines differ in that the juice is left in contact with the skin for a number of days to allow their rich colour to infuse into the liquid.
FERMENTING & MATURING
The converting of the sugar in the grape juice, into alcohol, is a task performed by special yeast that is added by the winemaker. If any bad yeast or bacteria comes into contact with the juice it could be ruined so strict hygiene of all the equipment used in winemaking is vital.
The wine is transferred to stainless steel tanks and it is matured over months or years to allow its full flavour to develop. Some types of wine (such as Chardonnay or Shiraz) may be stored in oak barrels to impart a rich butter-like flavour to the wine.
MORE VINEYARD WORK
Back amongst the vines there is more work to be done. Apart from maintenance of the vehicles, equipment and irrigation, there are wire repairs and weed control that needs to be performed. As winter approaches, the leaves start to turn brown and fall off the vines.
After this, the careful and slow process of pruning each individual vine can begin. Just in time for the buds to begin bursting again….
At the winery a last bit of magic is performed by the winemaker to prepare the wines for bottling. A lot of effort goes into deciding on the type, size & colour of bottles to hold the wine, as well as the design of the labels, as it is this which makes that all important first impression on the wine consumer.
The wine makes its journey through the bottling line to arrive at the end sealed and packaged in cartons ready for delivery to the cellar door.
The cellar door is the site where the consumption and sale of the wine takes place. It is the place where the consumer can sample the wines and sit back and enjoy a chat with the producer.
No need to explain this one!