About our Wine - Winemaking
At the most basic level, wine is made from two key ingredients: grapes and yeast.
When we crush the grapes, the grape juice is released. When we add yeast to this juice, the yeast convert sugars dissolved in the juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide in a process referred to as fermentation. The fermentation might take a few days, or many weeks, but in the end what started as grape juice is now wine.
In fact, wine can be made by adding yeast to juice from any fruit. However, making wine from grapes is the most natural because the ratio of sugar to acid in grape juice leads to a wine that is balanced in respect to the amount of water, acid and alcohol. It tastes good!
Much of the heavy equipment in the winery is geared toward getting the juice from the grapes. The destemmer-crusher, as you can probably guess, destems the grapes and crushes them. This creates a mixture of juice, skins, and seeds called must. We use the must pump to pump the must into the press. The press squeezes on the must which causes juice to be released which we collect and pump to a tank. After pressing, what remains in the press is a pile of dry skins and seeds called pommace, which is collected and later spread on the vineyard as fertilizer.
The tanks, barrels, and bins serve as our containers - they can hold juice, must, fermenting must, fermenting juice, or finished wines. Generally speaking, our red wines are made by fermenting red must in one-ton bins. After the red must is finished fermenting, we transfer the must to the press in order to press off the wine. Most of our red wines are then stored in barrels for at least a year before they are bottled. Our white wines are made by fermenting white juice in our stainless steel tanks, or in the case of Chardonnay, in oak barrels. Whether tank or barrel fermented, all of our white wines are stored for less than a year in steel or oak before they are bottled.
Much of the cellar work outside of harvest involves preparing the wines so they are crystal clear at the time of bottling. Immediately following juice fermentation, the young wine is quite cloudy with dead yeast cells and suspended solids from the crushed grapes. Over time, many of these particles will settle to the bottom of the tank or barrel. When this occurs, we can transfer the volume of clarified wine to a new tank, leaving the bottom layer of solid particles behind. This is a process known as racking.
On this page we have introduced some general winemaking terms and concepts that are inherent to the processing of all of our wines. To learn more about our specific wine types and varietals, please explore the links below.