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.
wine made in the dark
Picker at Radgonske Gorice of Slovenia wearing night vision goggles to harvest grapes.

Here's our first taste of it...

The post Have you ever wanted a wine made in the dark? Now you can... appeared first on Decanter.


wine made in the dark
Picker at Radgonske Gorice of Slovenia wearing night vision goggles to harvest grapes.

Here's our first taste of it...

The post Have you ever wanted a wine made in the dark? Now you can... appeared first on Decanter.

wine made in the dark
Picker at Radgonske Gorice of Slovenia wearing night vision goggles to harvest grapes.

A 100% Chardonnay, traditional method sparkling wine from Slovenia has been ‘harvested and matured in pitch darkness’.

The impact of light strike

The Slovenian wine, branded ‘Untouched by Light’, is claimed to be the first of its kind by its producer, Radgonske Gorice of Slovenia, which has been making sparkling wine for 168 years.

The Slovenian producer drew the inspiration to make the wine from research conducted in 1989 by Professor Emerita Ann C. Noble on the effect of fluorescent light on sparkling wine and its base wine.

Various research studies have shown that the UV rays from the sun or artificial lamps can dull the bright fruit flavours and add unpleasant notes such as rotten cabbage, eggs and wet wool.


See also: What is light strike in wine?


Though these flavours are similar to those caused by reduction, ‘reduction is reversible, light strike isn’t’, according to the producer.

By making a sparkling wine with minimum exposure to light, the producer aims to ‘preserve the original aromatic components in the wine as much as possible’.

Made in darkness

To ensure these wines see as little light as possible, pickers conduct harvest at night wearing night-vision goggles. During transportation, the grapes are covered under the tarp.

‘Night vision goggles do help in each step of the process as you can see everything, but you have to get used to them,’ said Klavdija Topolovec Špur, the ‘Untouched by Light’ winemaker.

The black foil wrapping of ‘Untouched by Light’.

The oenologist noted that sometimes workers have to use their sense of touch to complete the cellar work, which includes remuage (riddling) and disgorgement.

The base wine is poured into bottles made of ‘99.8% black glass’ and matured in darkness in the estate’s 166-year-old cellar located in natural caves. Before release, the bottles are vacuum-sealed in black foil.

The wine

The Chardonnay grapes were sourced from the hilly vineyards near the town of Gornja Radgona at the northeast corner of Slovenia, between the Mura River and Ščavnica.

Influenced by the Pannonian Plain, this region has a continental climate with moderate rainfall, hot summers and cold winters.

The selected south-facing plot named ‘AJDA’ features old vines planted in 1989, with eutric brown soil and limestone gravel admixture. The altitude is between 220 to 240 metres above sea level.

After ageing on lees for 36 months, the wine was disgorged in early 2020. The result is a sparkling wine of abundant freshness and rather distinct, complex aromatic characteristics.

The inaugural 2016 vintage of ‘Untouched by Light’ has an acidity level of 8 g/l and alcohol at 12%. Residual sugar falls into the Brut category (6.9 g/l).

Only 2000 bottles were made for this vintage, with the ambition to expand to 3000 next, ‘as we have enough capacity in caves’ according to Klavdija Topolovec Špur.

'Untouched by light' is aged in the estate's 166-year-old cellar located in natural caves.

How to serve it

The producer suggests sommeliers serve the wine in a dark environment and in black glasses while admitting that ‘this will not always be possible’.

The alternative, said the producer, is to taste the wine ‘as an experiment’ to observe how the impact of light can change the characteristics of the fizz in the glass.

Sparkling wine has been made in Gornja Radgona since 1852. The production was initiated by Alojz Klenošek in an era of Archduke John of Austria, a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, who expanded the wine production in this region. Later the production was continued by the Swiss-French Bouvier Family.


Untouched by Light, a sparkling wine made in the dark

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The ‘Untouched by Light’ sparkling wine is sold at 100 Euros per bottle, currently only available on untouchedbylight.com.

The post Have you ever wanted a wine made in the dark? Now you can... 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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