how is wine made

By Rebecca Sterry

In this article we will be focussing on wine production, wine production steps, how are grapes processed and the industrial production of wine. 

How is wine made? The selection of a vineyard’s location and climate. To be able to grow wine grapes, a vineyard location has to be carefully selected, taking into consideration the climate, the amount of rainfall, whether an area is prone to windy or hail-like conditions, the quality of the soil, topography and what the water supply is like. 

Once this has been determined, the vineyard must be designed for optimum growth which involves planning the property/vineyard layout, planting rootlings, soil tests, installing equipment such as trellises and windbreaks, land preparation, weed and pest control and sow covers.

After all the planning and preparation has been established, the vine’s annual growth cycle can begin! It begins with shoot growth and budburst which usually commences in early spring – for cooler climates in Australia, this tends to commence from late August until late September. 

Pruning & Training Young Vines

How is wine made? The importance in pruning and training young vines for the growing of wine grapes.

Pruning and training young vines is a crucial first step in having a successful vineyard as this will determine the likelihood of grapes growing, thus leading to wine production. 

Training of young vines is a time-consuming and tedious process, though once completed, it will lead to a successful and profitable vineyard! The training of young vines, when establishing a new vineyard, can take between 2 to 3 years to successfully achieve. 

  • Here at Verwood, the vineyard owners have had the vineyard in Sutton Forest now for 5 years. When Scott and Natalie took over, they had to make the tough decision for all the already established vines to be cut back in order to have successful growth (as there hadn’t been some success for a while). This decision proved to be worthwhile as the vines successfully produced their first vintage in 7 years, creating the 2019 range of wines they have now.

Within the first year, a strong shoot, of roughly 30cm in length, should be selected whilst others are removed. The shoot should ideally be of pencil thickness (6mm) and trained towards the wire. Until the shoot is 25cm below the wire, all lateral shoots should be removed, though as soon as the vine reaches its ideal height, the lateral shoots can be retained to form the vine’s arms. 

The shoots can be trained up anything non-living as to not become intertwined, such as steel/wooden/bamboo stakes, rigid wires, or strings. String is a typical choice; however, care must be taken to not damage the vine. When using string, at no point should the string be tied around parts of the living vine as it can become strangled. 

What is the importance in pruning? Pruning is an annual vineyard operation designed to maintain a vine’s shape, vigour, and productivity. It is usually a procedure carried out in the winter months to prepare for the following season, in which it is a monotonous process, traditionally performed by hand. Though, in recent years, the process has been re-developed so that machinery-aids can speed up this method.

The main aim of all pruning is to achieve; an efficient and effective cultural operation that aids towards disease control and harvesting, to be able to create consistent crops from year to year, and to create a balance in vegetative growth, crop load and the prevention of over-cropping. 

Whilst pruning, all vines should be pruned according to vigour and strength, with weaker vines requiring more attention to ensure the development of the weaker vine becoming stronger. If a weaker vine is overlooked, then there is the potential risk that, that vine will have a reduced life expectancy and may also produce immature, poor quality fruit. It is also ideal for the pruning to commence any time after the leaves have fallen, permitting it occurs before any buds burst in spring.

What Is Budburst?

What is budburst? Well, it’s basically what it says on the tin – buds bursting out. It is the term given for the arrival of the new leaves on a vine in Spring. This is the first stage in a growing vines’ cycle and can happen at various points throughout Spring, depending on the climate and the type of grape. According to Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia (2020), Chardonnay grapes tend to shoot sooner than the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, (great for all the Chardonnay lovers as your wine will be making production first!) As soon as this stage begins, the development of growth in the vine’s cycle continues at a rapid rate, which is music to a vineyard owner’s ears! Following the budburst, vines will flower, self-pollinate, and develop into small grapes. 

The presence of flowers on vines usually occurs 12-15 months before the fruit is harvested. As this happens, the buds on the vine become either potentially fruitful or vegetative for the subsequent season. At this time, the vines should not be succumbed to any stress as this could influence the current crop, as well as the following season’s crop. 

How Are Grapes Processed: Fruit Ripening Stage?

Fruit ripening consists of two stages: once the fruit has become hard and green, reaching their mature size, then the firsts stage is complete. The onset of the second stage begins once the fruit starts to change colour from green, becomes softened and gradually increases in more size – a change known as ‘veraison’. 

How Is Wine Made?

When it comes to how is wine made, there is a 5-stage process: harvesting, crushing, and pressing, fermentation, clarification and finally, aging and bottling.

What Are The Wine Production Steps?

The industrial production of wine is all a manufacturing process. 

Beginning with the harvest, winemakers make the decision as to when it is the optimum time to harvest their grapes, this usually being when they are physiologically ripe. 

Crushing the grapes is the next step, in which traditionally, people used to ‘stomp’ on the freshly picked grapes to crush them, whereas today we now have machines for this process.

Following this, fermentation occurs, and if left to its own devices, this naturally happens within 6-12 hours. Some winemakers allow the natural process of fermentation to occur from the wild yeasts in the air, though others may intervene and incorporate their own form of yeast to readily predict the wine’s result during this wine production stage.

Clarification is the process in which winemakers will choose either to rack or siphon their wine, from one tank to barrel, to leave precipitates and solids behind. These are commonly known as ‘pomace’. 

The final stage involves the winemaker deciding whether to bottle the wine immediately, or to leave the wine to age more in barrels, tanks etc. Ageing can continue in the bottle, though it is through personal preference of the winemaker that decides the best result, (Wine Month Club, 2020).

At Verwood, Natalie the manager, along with the winemaker, made the decision to age the Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 in French Oak barrels for 12 months to create toasty notes within the wine.

How Are Grapes Processed into the Different Wine Varieties?

When making the wine varieties, the red and white grapes go through slightly differing fermentation processes that creates the red, white, and Rosé wines. 

The skin of red grapes is what gives the red wine their full-bodied, ruby red colour. The process of fermentation is where this occurs due to the skins fermenting with the juice. After the fermentation process is complete with the red grapes, they are then ‘pressed off’ afterwards.

Contrastingly, white wines get their colour from the skins and seeds being ‘pressed off’ prior to fermenting, which provides them with their white colour appearance. 

Similarly, to red wine, Rosé wine also gets its signature pink colour from the skin of red grapes, though during the fermentation stage, Rosé wines are only stained for a few hours in comparison to red wine being fermented over a few weeks, (Wine Folly, 2020).

References

  • ‘A Guide to Growing Winegrapes in Australia’ Second Edition by Di Davidson