Vine to Wine – The Wine Making Process
Undoubtedly many of us will enjoy wine and not even think about all the work that has gone into the grapes going from vine to wine. Even just the smallest mistake can have the biggest impact on the final result. But just what is the process of making wine?
Harvest of the grapes is essential for the winemaking process and is the first step of wine production. Without the grapes, there can’t be any wine! The grapes contain the esters, tannins and acids that make wine so delicious.
Usually in England, grapes are ready to be picked from vineyards between August and October. Any earlier or later, and you risk not producing the best wine possible. This is because during this time period, grapes are often at their peak acid and sugar levels. Handpicking is usually preferred at smaller vineyards so that no fruit is lost. It is important to ensure there is no damage to the vines and that grapes remain on the bunch. Wines such a pinot noir that require the whole-bunch to be fermented, and sparkling wines, need whole bunches in order to achieve a full flavour.
Following harvesting, the grapes that are picked are pressed before going through the fermentation process. The grapes are destemed and crushed so that the fresh grape juice, seeds, solids and skins can be used for the next part of the winemaking journey. Unlike thousands of years ago where people would stand on the grapes to crush them, now many wineries use time saving mechanical crushers.
For white wine, the seeds, solids and skins are separated from the grape juice to prevent the tannins and colour from filtering into the wine. However for red wine, the seeds, solids and skins stay in contact with the juice.
Fermentation then starts within 6-12 hours while yeast is added to the must. This continues until all the sugar is turned into alcohol. Once in the fermentation tanks, the process can take anything between a week and a month.
Then we move on to clarification. This is the part where the wine is clarified and any unwanted tannins, proteins and yeast are removed. Filtering and fining can be done here to help remove solids out of a wine. Depending on the type of wine, it is then transferred into stainless steel tanks or oak barrels. This is to help age the wine and prepare it for bottling.
When making white wine, steel tanks are generally preferred. However with red wine the oak barrels help to create a smooth flavour thanks to the increased oxygen exposure allowing the tannins to get reduced and create a stunning wine flavour.
When the ageing process finishes the wine is bottled and secured with a screw cap or cork and is ready for you to drink!
Vineyard Tours at Yorkshire Heart
Come and find out for yourself exactly how we make our award winning wines at Yorkshire Heart! Running all year round, our vineyard tours are a unique Yorkshire experience that are hosted by our friendly, knowledgeable owners Chris and Gillian.
Enjoy a few hours relaxing, enjoying the view of our stunning vineyard before you start the tour with a glass of our sparkling wine. Following a look round our vineyard and winery whilst you discover more about the wine making process, you’ll be able to taste 3 of our still wines. As well as a plate of nibbles to accompany and compliment the wines.
Book an unforgettable afternoon at one of our vineyard tours now.