In each of the 50 states there is at least one winery. With close to 3,000 different commercial vineyards in the U.S. alone, wine is certainly big business. How exactly is wine made and how long does the process take? While the technique and exact steps to wine making may vary by vineyard, these are the basic steps that are involved in the wine making process.
Picking Of The Grapes
You can’t have wine without grapes! The majority of vineyards will first pick white grapes and then move on to red ones. Picking grapes is generally done old school with individuals actually picking the grapes without the use of heavy machinery. Hand harvesting tends to be the preferred method as it’s easier to choose only the best grapes this way. However, some vineyards have moved on to using machines as it can make the process faster. For regions with warmer climates, grape harvesting is often done at night as it allows for the grapes to have stable sugar levels.
The Grapes Get Crushed
It’s rare for grapes to get crushed by foot anymore as they did in the past. A special machine called a destemmer removes the leaves and stems from the grapes and then crushes them. White grapes are transferred to a press after they are crushed. This allows the juice to be extracted out and then transferred into a tank so the sediment transfers to the bottom. Afterwards it gets filtered into another tank, known as racking, so that all the sediment is gone prior to fermentation. Unlike white grapes, red grapes are transferred to a vat along with their skin to start the process of fermentation. This allows the juice to retain its red color.
The Fermentation Process Begins
Fermentation basically means that the sugar in the grape juice is converted into alcohol. For both red and white wines, yeast is added to start the fermentation process. For red wines, carbon dioxide is released and grapes are pressed after fermentation has taken place and then it undergoes the racking process before it spends at least few months in a barrel to age.
The Wine Gets Aged
The longer the wine ages the more intense it’s flavor. The amount of time a wine gets aged depends on the winery. Sometimes it will age for several months and other times for several years. A variety of barrels can be used including steel, oak, French and America or even barrels charred by fire so that they are ‘toasted’.
Bottling Takes Place
After the wine gets aged it gets bottled. This is done through a variety of machines with employees overseeing the process. This is the last step before the wine is available to the consumer for purchase.