Our team was super excited to recently spend time in Napa overseeing our latest production (New releases now available! Shop here!) While in Napa, Amanda Gunville, our phenomenal CMO/COO and Richard Bruno, the award-winning, 30-year industry veteran on our team, took time to walk through the winemaking process. This week we’re sharing the basics and preliminary steps: sorting, crushing and pressing.
Basic Terms to Know
Winemaking: Winemaking is the production of wine, starting with the selection of the fruit, its fermentation into alcohol, and the bottling of the finished liquid.
Sorting: Removing damaged / unsuitable fruit or other materials.
DeStemming: Removing grape stems.
Crushing: Breaking the grape skin to release the juice, the juice is collected, and may be fermented separately.
Pressing: Pressing separates the liquid from the solid constituents, this happens at different times in the winemaking process for reds and whites.
Must: Crushed fruit and skin.
Sorting the grapes is a vital part in the winemaking process! When the grapes arrive at the winery, oftentimes they are set on a table and manually sorted. The staff works to eliminate and remove damaged or unsuitable grapes and any other materials that are not grapes.
Destemming can be the next part of this process, its’ an optional step and not done for every wine. Its’ done using machinery that crushes the grape at the same time.
The purpose of the crushing step is to break the skins of the berries so the juice can run free. This can be a manual or machine induced process and must be done carefully. The manual process is done by human feet, picture the classic photo of someone in a barrel stepping on grapes, and the mechanical process is done via crushing/de-stemming machines.
This super important step takes place prior to fermentation. Pressing separates the liquids from the solid. Pressing is done in a large machine and is achieved through compressing. It sounds similar to crushing right? It’s not. Pressing is the actual compression of the must (crushed fruit and skins), while crushing is when the skin is pierced and pressure is applied. Pressing must be done carefully to ensure that the seeds do not burst.
Most white wines do not go through pressing, If a winemaker chooses to press a white wine, it’ll be immediately after crushing so that the juice won’t have time to absorb the tannins, color and phenolics from the skins. Most red wines are pressed! Since winemakers want the tannins, color and phenolics to leak into the red wine must, pressing isn’t done until near the end of fermentation.
There you have it, winemaking in action, a bit of knowledge on sorting, crushing and pressing! Cheers!
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