Winemaking 101

17 March 2022

It starts in the vineyard

Following the previous vintage, the viticulture team spend the entire year preparing and nurturing the vines to be ready for harvest in February – March. “Once vintage time rolls around, the grapes have to be picked at just the right time. Unlike bananas, grapes don’t ripen once they’re picked so choosing the right time to pick is crucial.

Some grapes are picked a little earlier in the harvest season, leaving them with less sugar and higher acidity. This is great for making sparkling wines or young and fresh white wines. Red grapes are generally left a little longer on the vines to ripen further.

To the winery

Once the grapes are picked, they are delivered to the winery for processing. This is where the procedure changes slightly for white and red wines. Grapes intended for white wines are destemmed from their bunches and crushed straight away. The grapes are then transferred to the press where the grapes are squeezed to release the juice. This process separates the juice from the skins and seeds. Once the clear, sticky and sweet grape juice has been pressed, it’s off to the settling tank.

Red, red wine

Grapes intended for red wines go through a slightly different process. When entering the winery, they are put on a sorting table where are team of winery members go through them, bunch-by-bunch to remove any unripe or damaged grapes.

Unlike the white varieties, the red grapes are not pressed at this point. The whole bunches and berries, depending on whether the fruit has been destemmed or not, are then transferred to large concrete open fermenters. The grapes stay in these containers for about 10 days to go through their alcoholic fermentation, where the sugar converts to alcohol. As the days go on, the juice falls to the bottom of the fermentation container and the skins of the grapes rise to the top, creating a cap which protects the wine from oxidation. The winemaking team will plunge or wet the cap daily by pumping the juice over the top of the cap.

Once the alcoholic fermentation is complete, the remaining grapes are transferred to the press to squeeze any last juice out of the skins. This process also extracts flavour, texture and aroma from the skins which all add complexity to the wines. 

Patience is a virtue

For both red and white wines, once the fermentation process is complete, the wine is transferred from the settling tank to oak barrels for maturation. The wine goes into ‘waiting time’ or as the French say, élvage, for up to 18 months. During this time, the winemaking team will taste, test, stir and top the barrels up until maturation is complete. We then blend, bottle and sell the final wines for you to enjoy.

Visit our cellar door

Our knowledgeable staff at Cellar Door can walk you through more details about our wines during a tasting, open Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 5pm.