Introduction To Winemaking

Introduction To Winemaking

(light marimba music)>>(narrator)
Winemaking is the
intentional transformation of grape juice into wine
through fermentation.>>The job of a winemaker,
the way I see it, is to choreograph the creation
of the wine in the bottle from the time you
choose a vineyard, to determine when
it’s picked, to look at the whole
vision of what you want from a particular vineyard
and make that happen both in the vineyard
and the winery.>>(narrator)
Viticulture and winemaking are inextricably
linked. But we can consider
the winemaking process as beginning with the
decision of when to pick.>>The decision to pick is
really, really important. That’s probably the
most critical part of the whole
winemaking process.>>(narrator)
Factors in deciding when to pick include the amount of sugar
and acid in the grapes, impending weather, and the
availability of tank space in the winery. Approaches to
harvest vary. But the primary goal is
to ensure that the fruit is kept cool
and intact and arrives quickly
to the winery.>>So we get started picking
grapes at about midnight. Everything is
hand-harvested into small,
quarter-ton lug boxes. We’ll bring them
into the winery, weigh them, and then put
them into a cold room. At that point, we’ll
begin processing.>>(narrator)
Sorting is done by hand or mechanically, using
equipment designed to remove
unwanted material.>>We take the
quarter-ton bin, we’ll dump it
onto a table. We’ll go through and
have four to six people hand-inspecting
the clusters. Then we destem
the fruit. We may choose to leave
some as whole cluster, which we’ll then
dump into the tank. For Pinot Noir, we begin
the destemming process, and then we go through and we
individually sort the berries. (bright, relaxed music)>>(narrator)
For red wines, winemakers must decide
whether to destem grapes or ferment the bunches
as whole clusters and whether or not to
deliberately crush the berries.>>We aim for minimal
crushing of the berries. Having whole
berries, we get a slight carbonic
maceration effect, where we’re actually having
the berries break down and release specific strawberry
and grassy hay flavors that are really
pretty in the wine.>>When I’m making red wine,
it’s very much variety specific. Pinot Noir and
Zinfandel, in both, I include some
whole clusters, because I want a very long,
extended fermentation time, and that’s a tool
to attain that. Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon,
I tend to destem them 100%.>>(narrator)
There is no single right way to make a wine. Two outstanding producers
just as often come to opposite
conclusions regarding any
individual decision. The key to quality winemaking
lies in experience, intuition, and
an understanding of how the complex interaction
of hundreds of choices can lead to a
desired result.>>The fundamental
difference between red winemaking
and white winemaking is that, with white wines,
the juice is separated from the skins and the
seeds before fermentation.>>(narrator)
For white wines, a bladder or pneumatic
press is often used.>>It’s a membrane
that inflates from one side of this
big tube like a can, pressing the grapes up
against a channeled screen. And then, the juice
comes out of the press.>>(narrator)
White grapes can be
whole-bunch pressed, or they can be crushed or
destemmed before pressing.>>We don’t like a lot
of phenolic extraction in white wine, so you
go direct to a press. You press
very gently. And you’ll separate the juice
from the skins and the seeds as quickly
as possible.>>If your stylistic
preference is for wine with a little more
body and flavor, you might destem it, leave
it on the skins for a while, anywhere from a few hours
to a day or more to extract things
from the skins.>>(narrator)
For rosé, red grapes may go directly to the press
and be handled like white wine. Alternatively, rosé can
be made from saignée, or juice drawn off a
tank of red grape must after a short
maceration.>>By definition, red wine
is made by fermenting with the skins and
the seeds present. All of the color in wine
comes from the skins. The tannins, the
spice compounds, come from the skins
and the seeds. So with red fermentation, you
ferment first and press later.>>We’ll do that
with a basket press. So it’s a small basket press
with a single plunger, and basically give them
a little squeeze, and the juice
comes out.>>(narrator)
The length of skin contact prior to pressing a red wine
depends on grape variety, fruit quality, and
intended wine style.>>With mountain
Cabernet, tannin is a big
factor in our wines. So our grapes come in
with a lot of tannin, a lot of
intensity, and the time that they
spend on the skins is where all of that flavor
comes into the wine. So that pressing decision
is really, really key.>>(narrator)
Ageworthy wines made from healthy grapes often
spend more time on the skins, while lighter styles of
wine may be pressed earlier. (playful music) Once the fruit
is processed, the juice or must is transferred
to fermentation vessels, which come in a
variety of sizes, and may be made of
stainless steel, wood, or
concrete.>>In the case of white wines,
we use exclusively barrels– barriques, 225-liter
French oak barrels. For reds, we have two
different techniques. We can use stainless steel
open-top fermenters, or we actually have some wood
open-top fermenters as well.>>(narrator)
The size and material of the vessel impact the
temperature of fermentation. Many modern tanks are
equipped with cooling jackets to provide
more control. In primary fermentation,
sugar is converted to carbon dioxide
and alcohol. Winemakers track
its progress by measuring the Brix level,
or density of the must.>>In general, the
amount of alcohol there is about 0.6 times
the level of sugar that came into
the winery. So if you come in
at 24 degrees Brix, you’re gonna get a
14.5% alcohol wine.>>Yeast can come from
a variety of sources. You can buy
cultured yeast, which had been selected
from a fermentation where somebody liked
the attributes and propagated it
and made it available. Or you can rely on the
ambient yeast in a winery.>>(narrator)
Fermentation is typically carried out by the wine
yeast Saccharomyces, which is adapted
to the conditions of high sugar
and alcohol. Yeast requires sufficient
nutrients and oxygen to thrive. Otherwise, stuck fermentations
or reductive aromas can occur.>>Prior to
fermentation, I always have a full juice
panel run by a local lab which gives me all the
organic acids, the nutrients, a number of other things
I like to look at. We’re not directed
by numbers, but they give you
information that’s valuable.>>(narrator)
Chemical analysis of the juice exposes deficiencies
that can be supplemented by nutrient and
acid additions. Fermentation
produces heat. And the range of temperatures
throughout the process can impact the flavors
of the resulting wine.>>With red grapes,
you really want to get a lot of heat early
in the fermentation. That’s how you extract color
and tannin into the wines.>>Some people prefer lower
fermentation temperatures to extend the fermentation
or to keep the wines more on the
fruity side.>>(narrator)
While red wine fermentations reach peak temperatures in
the 80s or low 90s Fahrenheit, white wine fermentations
are cooler, especially in the case
of aromatic wines. The physical contact
of juice and skins is key to
extraction. For red wines, this
is manipulated through cap
management.>>As the yeasts start to
convert the sugar into alcohol, the juice is released
from the grapes, and all the skins are lifted
up to the top of the tank by the carbon dioxide
that’s being produced. (bright, playful music)>>So one thing
that we want to do is we want to come in
and mix the cap to regulate the amount
of temperature that’s built up
in the tank.>>(narrator)
During the fermentation, the tank is typically mixed
one to three times per day, with practices adapted to
vintage and grape variety.>>You can do that
with a pumpover, where you’re actually
pumping the juice from the bottom
of the tank and then gently wetting
the cap on the top. You can also do it
with a punchdown, where you’re submerging the
cap down into the juice. And you’ll get more
or less extraction depending on how you
choose to manage your cap.>>(narrator)
Once fermentation is complete, the new wine is drained
off of the skins. This free-run wine is
often higher quality than the wine obtained
from pressing the skins.>>There’s a secondary
fermentation that some people do,
some people don’t, particularly
in white wines, called malolactic
fermentation.>>What is malolactic
fermentation? It’s the conversion of
malic acid to lactic acid with malolactic
bacteria.>>There are stylistic
reasons for doing it with some white wines,
such as Chardonnay, because you want the
reduction in acidity, or you’re looking for the
diacetyl, buttery character it can impart. But primarily, it is
a stability tool.>>(narrator)
For aromatic white wines, varietal flavors
are often preserved by preventing secondary
fermentation through low temperature,
sulfur additions, or sterile
filtration. (relaxed, bright music)>>Élevage is the term that
we use for the period of time after fermentation,
before a wine is bottled. Generally,
for red wines and for barrel-fermented
white wines, it’s the time that
they spend in barrel where they might be
stirred, racked, topped. All of those things that
we can do in barrel.>>(narrator)
Depending on wine style, élevage can last anywhere
from a few months to several years.>>Historically, barrels
were just a vessel to allow wine
to mature in. One person can
handle a barrel. That’s why 50 to 70 gallons
tends to be the size range in most areas
of the world. But it’s a convenient
aging container.>>(narrator)
The proportion of new oak, toast level, and
origin of the wood all impact the flavor
imparted by the barrel.>>But even an
older barrel that has no flavor at
all of wood anymore has a great effect
on the wine.>>(narrator)
Stirring, or bâtonnage, increases contact
with the lees, which are yeast cells
and other solids that have settled
from the wine.>>Stirring is a great
way to bring flavor into a
white wine. All of our Chardonnay
is fermented in barrel, and so, as
those yeast die, they settle down to the
bottom of the barrel. And by stirring
the barrel, we’re mixing them back
in with the wine where all of the contents
of the yeast cells are being released and those
are the polysaccharides and mannoproteins that
make the wine really thick and delicious.>>Because it’s
a small vessel, every time you open
that bung on the barrel, you’re letting a tiny
bit of oxygen in. So you get slightly more
oxidative aging in a barrel than you would
in a large tank.>>(narrator)
Topping replaces wine lost to evaporation
during aging.>>We call the evaporation
from a barrel the “angel’s share.” So that’s wine that is
going out into the air and the barrel is
becoming lower and lower, so we have to top that
up with fresh wine in order to prevent oxygen
from getting into the barrel.>>(narrator)
Racking occurs several times during the life
of a wine.>>Racking is where you
take all of the wine from one lot or
block of grapes, and you pump all the
barrels out into a tank, you clean all
your barrels, and then you pump the wine
back into the same barrels or different barrels, depending
on the flavors you want.>>(narrator)
Blending can be done at any time
during élevage.>>I like to let the wines age
for at least eight months before I start
blending. I think that is
a good point to really see the
long-term flavors and character
of each wine.>>(narrator)
Winemakers blend wines from different
grape varieties, vineyard sites, or styles to
create a more complete wine.>>After fermentation, the
biggest enemy of wine is access
to oxygen.>>(narrator)
While wine may benefit from a small
amount of oxygen, for most wines, protection
from excessive oxidation is achieved with the
addition of sulfur dioxide.>>Sulfur dioxide
is a preservative that’s been used in wine
for hundreds of years. They used to burn
sulfur wicks in barrels. Sulfur dioxide
is antioxidant, and it’s also somewhat
Sulfur dioxide can be added at various points throughout
the winemaking process, depending on the
condition of the fruit and the style
of the wine.>>As the sulfur
stays in the wine, it reduces over time,
relatively very quickly. So each time we open the barrel,
we’ll check the sulfur, and maybe we’ll make
a small addition.>>If you’re in a rush
to get ’em to market or if it’s your
preference, there are stability things
you can do to the wines. Chilling, fining,
filtration– there’s lots of tools to
get them market-ready.>>Filtration is removing
sediment from wine or removing yeast
and bacteria. In some cases, the wine
might be a little bit hazy. And then, it’s the
winemaker’s opinion that that haze could
be a little bit bitter, and a very loose filtration
to clarify the wine will make it actually
taste better.>>Sometimes, filtration
just comes down to a stability
issue. If you bottle a wine and
it has enough malic acid, or enough residual sugar,
or not enough SO2 for something to go
wrong in bottle, then you wanna make
sure that you’ve removed any yeast or bacteria
that could become active once the wine has
been bottled.>>(narrator)
Fining agents such as egg whites or clay may be used to improve
the tannin structure, clarity, or
aroma of a wine. Bottling is the
last opportunity a winemaker has to
influence wine quality.>>I don’t want to
bottle a wine until I feel that the
wine has developed and reached its apogee in terms
of balance and interest. And that can vary. It’s not on
a calendar. Every wine will
develop differently.>>(narrator)
Bottling lines are complex, with many opportunities
for error. It may not be the most
romantic part of the process, but this overlooked aspect is
essential to ensure quality. (upbeat music)>>There are a number of faults
that can affect wine quality and, as a winemaker,
that’s the last thing that you want to have
happen to your wine.>>I think the biggest
problem with most wineries is microbiological
spoilage, which can occur from
a variety of sources. And we try to
be very careful and make sure our
cooperage is clean and well maintained, and to keep the
wines topped.>>(narrator)
Spoilage from undesirable yeast or bacteria can
impact flaws, such as high levels
of volatile acidity or barnyard aromas. Most microbial spoilage
can be avoided through clean
cellar practices. At low levels or when
done intentionally, some wine faults may
add interest to a wine. Cork taint, however, is
always seen as a flaw, which has led to experimentation
with cork alternatives.>>Beyond natural cork, there
are agglomerated corks, there’s lots of
plastic closures, there’s glass
closures. And then, of course,
screwcap. There are many options
available to winemakers today.>>(narrator)
The same wine under different closures will
vary in terms of consistency, rate of oxidation,
and flavor. Cost, consumer perception,
and convenience are also important
factors.>>Patience is
very important. You can’t be an impatient person
when you’re making wine. Decisions are very
long and slow.>>(narrator)
While the fundamental principles of winemaking
are universal, practices vary by region,
grape variety, and wine style, allowing winemakers to
craft unique expressions.>>Every wine is
a new experience. It’s got its
own journey and, if you listen
carefully enough, it’ll tell you what it wants
to be and where it wants to go. (bright, playful music)

32 thoughts on “Introduction To Winemaking

  1. Does anyone from GuildSomm, or its viewers, know of any conclusive lists or charts that show “classic examples” of varietals for Blind Tasting? For example, what would be a better classic example of a Napa Cab? Frank Family or Heitz? How do you find a classic example of a varietal that’s made in so many different ways within the SAME region???

  2. I liked verry much. Can you make some from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Bordeaux left bank? Thank you so much. You are amazing

  3. I thought that well-aged wines are healthier then young wines. I read on young red wines contain greater tannin levels than other type of wine. I always paid more for some years old wine however young wine is better. LOL

  4. why do so many winemakers (70% in my opinion) kill the wine with too much sulphites? It's mind-boggling. Have their tongues been cut out or are they just plain stupid? Why are sulphites so diffiucult to detect in Bordeaux wines, but so obvious in most of the New world wines, with few exceptions?

  5. So many unnecessary steps to make wine. Grapes have everything you need already in them. Stop adding and/or taking away elements. Let the wine do all the work and make sure not to screw it up.

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