Here is the basic process of wine-making:
1) The grapes are harvested in August or September, when they are ripe.
2) The harvested grapes are dropped into bins to be crushed. This is where the distinction between red and white wine occurs; skin and seeds remain to be made into red wine where the skin and seeds are removed to make white wine.
3) The juice, skins, and seeds (except for white wine) are poured into stainless steel fermenting tanks.
4) Cultured yeast is usually added to this mixture; the yeast digests the sugar present in the grape juice when fermentation begins. Carbon dioxide and alcohol become by-products of fermentation.
5) After fermentation, the wine is poured into 60-gallon oak barrels.
6) During the aging process, the wine is “racked” a few times; wine is pumped from one barrel to an empty barrel.
7) After months of aging in the barrels, the wine is moved into bottles and continue to age.
8) The wine is shipped and consumed when sufficiently aged.
The grapes used for making wine ripen in late August or September depending on the seasonal conditions and of course the continent. The winemaker tastes the grapes and measures the sugar content to decide exactly when to harvest the fruits.
Vineyard workers then work to harvest the grapes as quickly as possible. The harvested grapes are dropped into bins that are trucked to the winery to be crushed.
This is where the production processes of red wine are different from those of white wine. When the grapes are crushed, the skin and seeds remain with red wines but the skins and seeds are removed for white wines.
For red wine, the juice, skins, and seeds are poured into stainless steel tanks (winemaking equipment) where the fermenting takes place.
The winemaker will add yeast to this grape juice; the fermentation begins when the yeast begins to digest the sugars which are in the grape juice. Carbon dioxide and alcohol are also produced during this process.
Following fermentation, the wines are poured into barrels (winemaking equipment), where they will stay to age. Typically, the wine is aged in 60-gallon oak barrels.
During the time that the wine is in the barrel for aging, they are racked (winemaking equipment), where the wine is pumped from one barrel to an empty barrel any solid products which are left in the first barrel are removed and then the barrel is used again.
After months of aging in the barrels the wine is moved into the bottle where it will stay at the winery and continue to age. When the wine is sufficiently aged in the bottle, the wine is ready to be shipped to the shops for the end consumers.
Here is some information on how much wine is made from a ton of grapes and how many wine bottles are in a barrel of wine.
One Acre of Vineyards will produce between 2 (high quality) and 10 (lower quality) tons of grapes, and 1 ton of grapes will yield approximately 700 bottles of wine.
Since this is an environmental website, I’m going to mention that wines can have the labels sustainable and/or organic.
Sustainable means the grapes were grown and the wine was made using responsible agriculture and wine making processes. There are various groups who grant the “sustainable” certification. The link below goes to an Oregon certification group; this link goes to a California certification group: http://www.sustainablewinegrowing.org/swpcertification.php
For wine, organic can get a bit confusing: does it refer to the grapes or the wine or both? From the second link below, here are some of the ways wine can be partially or entirely organic:
See the second link for an expanded discussion on the organic label on wines.
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