Winemaking 101

Wine is one of those extraordinary things where a single grape can produce a myriad of different flavours depending on factors such as climate, soil quality and when they’re harvested. These and other factors come together to affect the quality of the grape. We know how much people love wine, and with winter kicking in, it’s the best time to enjoy a glass of red. So, whether you’re looking to hire a bus in Melbourne for a winery tour in the near-future or are just interested in knowing a little more about how this glorious liquid is made – you’ve come to the right place.

Wine Grapes in a Vineyard with the Sun Shining in the Background

Introduction and process

Whilst some vineyards will follow their own processes and have their own unique tricks and traits – there is a basic structure that is followed all over the world when it comes to bottling the grapes. The process is as follows:

 

  • Harvesting – This can be done by hand or using a specialised harvesting machine. The grapes are left on the stems in this step and then transported to the crushing facilities for the next phase.
  • Crushing – The grapes are put through a destemmer machine which destems the grapes and lightly crushes them. The grapes are then put into a press which extracts the juice and moves it into a tank (leaving the skin behind) where it is left to settle. After the sediment has sunk to the bottom of the tanks, the juice is filtered into another tank – ensuring all the sediment is left behind. For red wine grapes, the crushed grapes are put straight into a tank for fermentation with the skin.
  • Fermenting – Yeast is added to both red and white varieties during this stage to convert sugar into alcohol. Winemakers must also work to prevent microorganisms from growing within the tanks as well as prevent oxidisation. After fermentation is complete, red wine varieties are then sent to a presser and separated from the skin.
  • Aging – This step varies drastically and is dependent on the type of wine being made. Things to consider include the aging timeframe (years or months) and the type of barrel. For example, Chandon Brut is stored in a combination of large oak barrels, barriques and stainless steels barrels. Each grape will interact differently with each type of barrel.
  • Bottling– If the winemaker is satisfied then the wine can be bottled and is ready for consumption.

 

In addition to the above standard process – several other elements must be considered when growing wine and each of them could be the difference between a good and exceptional wine.

 

Climate

The climate of the vineyard plays a huge part and will ultimately affect the flavour of the grapes. For example, a cooler climate will result in a slower maturing grape which means less sugar but higher acidity. Temperatures above 10°C with plenty of sun and water are ideal for the growing season with cooler temperatures being optimal for the dormancy. If there is not enough water during the growing seasons, then irrigation systems must be put in place.

Warmer climates are generally the perfect environments for grapes to mature effectively (though it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to produce quality wine in cooler regions – the Barossa Valley is proof of that). Then, it’s up to the winemakers to pick them at the appropriate time. Modern technology helps with this process but an age-old tried and true method is to just taste a grape yourself periodically to gauge whether or not they’re ready. Matured grapes will be plump and easy to pull off of a cluster, the stem will be brown, and the taste will be quite sweet.

 

Soil

The soil is where the vineyards get all of their nutrients from and therefore must be maintained. This includes adequate irrigation (especially if there is a lack of rain in the area) and keeping it strong and healthy by achieving just the right pH levels. There are a handful of primary soil types that are recommended for growing grapes such as silt, loam, clay-based and sandy soils – each of which will yield different properties. Clay soil, for example, tends to produce bolder varieties. Limestone-rich clay soil is used in the Spanish region of Rioja – which is one of the highest quality Tempranillo vineyards in the world.

 

Are you looking to hire a bus in Melbourne?

The winemaking process is a fascinating one that can span from the most intricate of processes to the simplest. It’s handy to have this extra bit of knowledge next time you enlist Melbourne on the Move to take you and your friends on a wine tasting tour in some of our finest vineyards.

If you’d like to know more about hiring a bus in Melbourne, then please do not hesitate to call us on 1300 55 86 86 or use the contact form on our website.

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