Vinification is the process that transforms the grapes into wine. The process of vinification differ from region to region, financial state of the winery and the grape types. The harvesting time and the type of oak used for aging are based on the region in which the wine grapes are grown.

Wine making process involves the following stages:

  • The first step in wine making process is Harvesting or Picking. Grapes should be harvested at the right time in order to make good wine. Harvesting can be done either mechanically or by hand.
  • The process of separating the grapes from the stems and cluster parts is called Destemming. Some of the wine makers keep some fragments of the stem to increase the wine tannin.
  • After destemming the grapes are crushed to extract the juice from the skin. This is done before the fermentation process begins. In the olden days bare feet is used to extract the grape juice, now a day machines like crushers are used.
  • Separation of grape juice and the skin is named as pressing. After crushing the grape juice will flow freely, selected wineries use pressers to make sure maximum juice is released.
  • Once the grapes are pressed they are introduced into the process of fermentation. During this process the grape juice are converted into alcoholic beverage. The yeast interacts with the sugar in the grape juice and converts them into ethanol and carbon dioxide.
  • Once the wine is purified and refined, they are preserved with sulfur dioxide or potassium sorbate. During the natural process of fermentation a minimum amount of sulfites are produced, but more is added for the use of commercial preservation.
  • Wines are aged for a particular amount of time to get more welcoming wine. Once after purification, the wines are moved to wooden barrels for aging. Metal vats, concrete vats and glass carboys are also used in some cases to increase the flavor.
  • After aging, the wines are bottled. During the process of bottling a final dose of sulfite is added to the wine to prevent it from uninvited fermentation in the bottle. The bottles are then sealed with cork and screw caps.
heatwaves vineyards
Carcassonne, France

Here's how wineries cope with extreme heat...

The post How do winemakers combat heatwaves? – ask Decanter appeared first on Decanter.


heatwaves vineyards
Carcassonne, France

Here's how wineries cope with extreme heat...

The post How do winemakers combat heatwaves? – ask Decanter appeared first on Decanter.

heatwaves vineyards
Carcassonne, France

Heatwaves in vineyards – What are the risks?

Winemakers need to know how to tackle unexpected heat, as shown by the recent heatwaves in France, but what are the risks to consider?

Loss of acidity

Most wines sit between around 3 and 4 on the pH scale.

‘Malic acid is quite sensitive to high temperature, and drops dramatically when temperature rises above 30° C,’ said Arturo Ziliani, CEO and winemaker at Berlucchi.

‘This acid is the main reason for Franciacorta freshness – otherwise we lose elegance and longevity, resulting in heavy, “jammy” wines.’

‘In order to fight heatwave, hand picking must be as quick as possible, to avoid acidity decreasing which may cause a loss in wine fresh character.’

Irene Mestre, winemaker at Colet Winery, in Penedès, Spain, says they try to keep the grapes shaded to keep them cool, but that ‘other winemakers might prefer to add tartric acid to the wine later, to help the acidity.’


Burning the grapes

heatwaves vineyards

Sokol Blosser Winery vines in the 40 degree heat. Credit: Sokol Blosser Winery Twitter

As well as the acidity levels, excessive sun and heat can burn the grapes, said Alex Sokol Blosser, winemaker at Sokol Blosser, in Oregon.

‘We could drop sunburned fruit, or spray on a sun block,’ said Sokol Blosser.

‘We make sure leaf plucking is restrained on western sides of vines especially to prevent sunburn,’ said Harry Peterson-Nedry, speaking to Decanter.com when he was winemaker at Chehalem Winery in the Willamette Valley.

In hot regions like Barossa Valley, vines are bush-trained to deliberately create shade for the grapes.

Protecting the style of wine

Spring Mountain

Elevation, such as here in Spring Mountain, provides cooler temperatures in hotter climates.

‘Loss of aromatic fragrance and loss of freshness is a risk in the heat,’ said Mestre.

‘It also depends on your style of winemaking – we focus more on what you can do in the vineyard, so we leave more leaves in the plant so that the grapes have more shade. We try to avoid adding much to the wines in the cellar.’

‘The finesse, elegance, higher acids and lower alcohols of our wines from the sensitive varieties like Pinot Noir we are known for, require continued attention to both climate and how we do viticulture and winemaking,’ said Peterson-Nedry.

‘Adaptations are required short-to-medium term to vineyards (siting of new vineyards to upper elevations, north-sides of hillsets, leaf plucking, irrigation, and croploads) to provide similar fruit to the winery; and adaptations to the winery processes (harvest timing, maceration steps, punchdown regimens, fermentation temperatures, additions).’

Working conditions

Ningxia, China

Red grape harvest at Kanaan Winery, Ningxia, China, Regional Trophy winner of 2015 DAWA. Credit: Kanaan Winery

It also slows up the vineyard work.

‘There’s also having to stop work in the vineyard after lunch because it is too hot,’ said Sokol.

With the current health warning in France, vineyard workers are starting shifts four hours earlier, to avoid working in the worst of the heat.

In particularly hot countries, some wineries choose to have the grapes picked at night.

A 2017 study published in the Temperature journal highlighted concerns around hot conditions for vineyard workers in Mediterranean countries. Researchers used time-motion analysis and found that extreme heat led to a significant loss of labour hours.

Originally published in 2017, and updated in 2019. 


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The post How do winemakers combat heatwaves? – ask Decanter appeared first on Decanter.


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Each wine is unique. Soil, weather, geology, varietals, and the style of wine making, are all decisive yet variable factors that give each wine a unique character.
Each wine is unique. Soil, weather, geology, varietals, and the style of wine making, are all decisive yet variable factors that give each wine a unique character.
Winemakers all over the world are combining wine making traditions of millennia with innovative approaches and ideas, to address consumer demand for high quality products and a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.
Winemakers all over the world are combining wine making traditions of millennia with innovative approaches and ideas, to address consumer demand for high quality products and a sustainable and healthy lifestyle.

Laurel Gray Vineyards

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