The Red Wine Process


Red wine When picked, red wine grapes are initially processed in the crusher - destemmer. This machine separates the grapes from the stems and gently crushes them into a pulpy material referred to as "must." The must is then transferred into tanks or fermenting bins where it will "cold soak" for a few days, gaining colour and fruit flavours. After a few days the must is inoculated with yeast and fermentation begins.

Once fermentation has started, CO2 and alcohol are produced. The CO2 pushes the skins to the top of the tank or bin, away from the juice, forming what is called the "cap." Skin contact is critical at this stage because the juice will pick up colour and tannins from the skins. Therefore, the cap must be kept in contact with the juice as much as possible.

This can be accomplished in a couple of different ways. The first, called "punching down," is the simple process of manually pushing the cap back down into the juice. In the days of old, this was accomplished by stomping them with your feet. Nowadays, some use a stainless steel Birkenstock footprint with a long rod attached to it (talk about modern technology!). The second is used for larger quantities of wine and is called "pumping over." This process uses a pump attached to the bottom of a tank. The juice is then pumped over the top of the cap and circulated this way for about 15 - 20 minutes. Whether you're punching down or pumping over, you still must do this twice a day (sometimes more!), until fermentation is complete.

After fermentation is over, the juice (now wine) is pressed away from the skins and into a holding tank where it will settle out for a day or two. The wine is then put into oak barrels for aging and to allow it to go through a secondary fermentation called malolactic fermentation. During this fermentation, malic acid is converted into lactic acid. After the aging process, the wine is taken out of barrel and bottled.


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