Saturday, April 14, 2007

Savor Their Hard Grape Labor- Part 1

Next time you open a wine from a premium winery, I hope you recall this posting.

I admit that other than laborers picking the grapes in the field, I thought that the rest of the wine making process was mechanized. After watching some harvest videos, I have a new sense of appreciation for the finished product and an understanding of the difference in wine pricing.

Premium wineries will often selectively pick their grape clusters in the vineyard. This TLC will continue with hand sorting their grape berries after they are gently de-stemmed in a machine using rubber tipped handles. These berries are then conveyed to a crusher to gently release their juice before being pumped into the fermentation tanks.

Some winemakers will then choose to use dry ice to purge any oxygen in the tank which eliminates off odors and preserves the natural fruity flavors. This cold fermentation is used mostly in making delicate white wines although the Merry Edward's vineyard in the Russian River Valley AVA near Sonoma, CA, uses this method in making their Pinot Noir.

Yeast is then added to the juice, causing the sugar in the juice to convert to heat, CO2 and alcohol in the process known as fermentation.

This may be more information than you can "swallow" at one time so feel free to take a break and open a bottle. But don't forget to savor their labor! We will continue Part 2 when you are rested and refreshed.