The Basics of Winemaking

Last post, we shared a few pictures of the harvest season in progress.  This post is going to pick up where harvesting leaves off: making wine.  If you’re new to winemaking or if you’re a seasoned pro, we’ll think you’ll enjoy this post.  So, open a bottle, pour yourself a glass of Swan Creek wine, and read on.

The steps to winemaking are essentially the same, whether you’re making a red, white or rose:  Pick the grapes, squeeze out the juice, ferment the grapes, age it, and then bottle it.  Of course there are variations along the way, but everything comes back to these basic steps.  We covered picking the grapes last time, so next up is squeezing the juice.

Getting Ready to Process Grapes

This step, also known as crushing, typically takes place out on the crush pad.  Freshly harvested grapes are brought to the winery in large bins.  The bins are emptied into a machine that crushes, de-stems, and extracts the juice.  Once the grapes are crushed, they’ll take a different path depending if it’s a red or white.

For white wines, the juice is separated from the skins and any other debris.  Red wines remain in contact with the skins for an extended period of time to allow for color and flavor extraction.  Fermentation also occurs during this time and the longer the wine stays in contact with the skins, the darker and more flavorful the finished wine will be.

Fermentation at Laurel Gray Vineyards

Fermentation starts when the winemaker adds yeast to the pressed juices.  Most wines are fermented until all sugar in the juice is gone (making a dry wine).  If any natural sugars remain, this will make a sweeter wine.  After fermentation is complete, the wine is filtered to remove the spent yeast.

Stainless steel tank or barrel, which do you like best?

Wine will age in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels from just a few months up to a year or two.  The aging time will allow wines to mellow and become much more smooth.

Windsor Run Cellars: The Bottling Line

Windsor Run Cellars: The Bottling Line

After the desired aging time, the wine is ready to bottle.  Bottles are filled, corked, labeled, and then boxed up. They need a few weeks before they’re ready to be sold.  At this point, you’ll can pick up a wine from one of our tasting rooms.  Come visit our vineyards and try one for yourself!

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