The Wine Making Process

Wine is created through the natural process of fermentation. Simply put fermentation is a process in which organic matter (in this case grapes) is broken down into simpler compounds by micro organisms.

In the process of wine making the organic matter is sugar, the micro organisms are yeast, and the simpler compounds the sugar is broken down into is alcohol (oh yeah) and carbon dioxide. This is the chemistry side of what’s going on during this process.

Our job as wine makers is to gently guide the grapes through this process. We aren’t here to force unnatural processes, rather the less interference from us the better the wine will turn out in the end. It is commonly said that 90% of the wine making process is performed by the grape growers in the vineyard.

Now let’s get into how this miraculous transformation from mere fruit to the elixir of life takes place. Click on any of the steps along the way for a deeper exploration.

1. Crush and de-stem the grapes while collecting the “free-run” juice.

2. Press the grapes for even more juice.

3. Add yeast cultures to the juice to start the fermentation process.

4. When fermentation is complete, rack the wine off of the lees (dead yeast).

5. Age the wine.

6. Clarify your wine.

7. Stabilize it.

8. Bottle the wine.

9. Age it again (making wine does require patience).

10. Enjoy. (woo hoo!)

This is a very simple (and generic) breakdown of the white winemaking process. Red wines are made by switching the order of steps two and three. The juice and the pressed skins and seeds are all fermented together. Click on the individual steps for more information.