(light marimba music)
>> (narrator) Winemaking is the intentional transformation
of grape juice into wine through fermentation.
>> The job of a winemaker, the way I see it,
is to choreograph the creation of the wine in the bottle
from the time you choose a vineyard,
to determine when it's picked,
to look at the whole vision of what you want
from a particular vineyard and make that happen
both in the vineyard and the winery.
>> (narrator) Viticulture and winemaking
are inextricably linked.
But we can consider the winemaking process
as beginning with the decision of when to pick.
>> The decision to pick is really, really important.
That's probably the most critical part
of the whole winemaking process.
>> (narrator) Factors in deciding when to pick
include the amount of sugar and acid in the grapes,
impending weather, and the availability of tank space
in the winery.
Approaches to harvest vary.
But the primary goal is to ensure that the fruit
is kept cool and intact
and arrives quickly to the winery.
>> So we get started picking grapes at about midnight.
Everything is hand-harvested
into small, quarter-ton lug boxes.
We'll bring them into the winery,
weigh them, and then put them into a cold room.
At that point, we'll begin processing.
>> (narrator) Sorting is done by hand
or mechanically, using equipment designed
to remove unwanted material.
>> We take the quarter-ton bin,
we'll dump it onto a table.
We'll go through and have four to six people
hand-inspecting the clusters.
Then we destem the fruit.
We may choose to leave some as whole cluster,
which we'll then dump into the tank.
For Pinot Noir, we begin the destemming process,
and then we go through and we individually sort the berries.
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>> (narrator) For red wines,
winemakers must decide whether to destem grapes
or ferment the bunches as whole clusters
and whether or not to deliberately crush the berries.
>> We aim for minimal crushing of the berries.
Having whole berries,
we get a slight carbonic maceration effect,
where we're actually having the berries break down
and release specific strawberry and grassy hay flavors
that are really pretty in the wine.
>> When I'm making red wine, it's very much variety specific.
Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, in both,
I include some whole clusters,
because I want a very long, extended fermentation time,
and that's a tool to attain that.
Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, I tend to destem them 100%.
>> (narrator) There is no single right way
to make a wine.
Two outstanding producers just as often come
to opposite conclusions
regarding any individual decision.
The key to quality winemaking lies in experience,
intuition, and an understanding
of how the complex interaction of hundreds of choices
can lead to a desired result.
>> The fundamental difference
between red winemaking and white winemaking
is that, with white wines, the juice is separated
from the skins and the seeds before fermentation.
>> (narrator) For white wines,
a bladder or pneumatic press is often used.
>> It's a membrane that inflates
from one side of this big tube like a can,
pressing the grapes up against a channeled screen.
And then, the juice comes out of the press.
>> (narrator) White grapes can be whole-bunch pressed,
or they can be crushed or destemmed before pressing.
>> We don't like a lot of phenolic extraction
in white wine, so you go direct to a press.
You press very gently.
And you'll separate the juice from the skins and the seeds
as quickly as possible.
>> If your stylistic preference is for wine
with a little more body and flavor,
you might destem it, leave it on the skins for a while,
anywhere from a few hours to a day or more
to extract things from the skins.
>> (narrator) For rosé, red grapes
may go directly to the press and be handled like white wine.
Alternatively, rosé can be made from saignée,
or juice drawn off a tank of red grape must
after a short maceration.
>> By definition, red wine is made by fermenting
with the skins and the seeds present.
All of the color in wine comes from the skins.
The tannins, the spice compounds,
come from the skins and the seeds.
So with red fermentation, you ferment first and press later.
>> We'll do that with a basket press.
So it's a small basket press with a single plunger,
and basically give them a little squeeze,
and the juice comes out.
>> (narrator) The length of skin contact
prior to pressing a red wine depends on grape variety,
fruit quality, and intended wine style.
>> With mountain Cabernet,
tannin is a big factor in our wines.
So our grapes come in with a lot of tannin,
a lot of intensity,
and the time that they spend on the skins
is where all of that flavor comes into the wine.
So that pressing decision is really, really key.
>> (narrator) Ageworthy wines
made from healthy grapes often spend more time on the skins,
while lighter styles of wine may be pressed earlier.
Once the fruit is processed,
the juice or must is transferred to fermentation vessels,
which come in a variety of sizes,
and may be made of stainless steel,
wood, or concrete.
>> In the case of white wines, we use exclusively barrels--
barriques, 225-liter French oak barrels.
For reds, we have two different techniques.
We can use stainless steel open-top fermenters,
or we actually have some wood open-top fermenters as well.
>> (narrator) The size and material
of the vessel impact the temperature of fermentation.
Many modern tanks are equipped with cooling jackets
to provide more control.
In primary fermentation, sugar is converted
to carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Winemakers track its progress
by measuring the Brix level, or density of the must.
>> In general, the amount of alcohol there
is about 0.6 times the level of sugar
that came into the winery.
So if you come in at 24 degrees Brix,
you're gonna get a 14.5% alcohol wine.
>> Yeast can come from a variety of sources.
You can buy cultured yeast,
which had been selected from a fermentation
where somebody liked the attributes
and propagated it and made it available.
Or you can rely on the ambient yeast in a winery.
>> (narrator) Fermentation is typically
carried out by the wine yeast Saccharomyces,
which is adapted to the conditions
of high sugar and alcohol.
Yeast requires sufficient nutrients and oxygen to thrive.
Otherwise, stuck fermentations or reductive aromas can occur.
>> Prior to fermentation,
I always have a full juice panel run by a local lab
which gives me all the organic acids, the nutrients,
a number of other things I like to look at.
We're not directed by numbers,
but they give you information that's valuable.
>> (narrator) Chemical analysis of the juice
exposes deficiencies that can be supplemented
by nutrient and acid additions.
Fermentation produces heat.
And the range of temperatures throughout the process
can impact the flavors of the resulting wine.
>> With red grapes, you really want to get
a lot of heat early in the fermentation.
That's how you extract color and tannin into the wines.
>> Some people prefer lower fermentation temperatures
to extend the fermentation or to keep the wines
more on the fruity side.
>> (narrator) While red wine fermentations
reach peak temperatures in the 80s or low 90s Fahrenheit,
white wine fermentations are cooler,
especially in the case of aromatic wines.
The physical contact of juice and skins
is key to extraction.
For red wines, this is manipulated
through cap management.
>> As the yeasts start to convert the sugar into alcohol,
the juice is released from the grapes,
and all the skins are lifted up to the top of the tank
by the carbon dioxide that's being produced.
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>> So one thing that we want to do
is we want to come in and mix the cap
to regulate the amount of temperature
that's built up in the tank.
>> (narrator) During the fermentation,
the tank is typically mixed one to three times per day,
with practices adapted to vintage and grape variety.
>> You can do that with a pumpover,
where you're actually pumping the juice
from the bottom of the tank
and then gently wetting the cap on the top.
You can also do it with a punchdown,
where you're submerging the cap down into the juice.
And you'll get more or less extraction
depending on how you choose to manage your cap.
>> (narrator) Once fermentation is complete,
the new wine is drained off of the skins.
This free-run wine is often higher quality
than the wine obtained from pressing the skins.
>> There's a secondary fermentation
that some people do, some people don't,
particularly in white wines,
called malolactic fermentation.
>> What is malolactic fermentation?
It's the conversion of malic acid to lactic acid
with malolactic bacteria.
>> There are stylistic reasons for doing it
with some white wines, such as Chardonnay,
because you want the reduction in acidity,
or you're looking for the diacetyl, buttery character
it can impart.
But primarily, it is a stability tool.
>> (narrator) For aromatic white wines,
varietal flavors are often preserved
by preventing secondary fermentation
through low temperature, sulfur additions,
or sterile filtration.
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>> Élevage is the term that we use for the period of time
after fermentation, before a wine is bottled.
Generally, for red wines
and for barrel-fermented white wines,
it's the time that they spend in barrel
where they might be stirred, racked, topped.
All of those things that we can do in barrel.
>> (narrator) Depending on wine style,
élevage can last anywhere from a few months
to several years.
>> Historically, barrels were just a vessel
to allow wine to mature in.
One person can handle a barrel.
That's why 50 to 70 gallons tends to be the size range
in most areas of the world.
But it's a convenient aging container.
>> (narrator) The proportion of new oak,
toast level, and origin of the wood
all impact the flavor imparted by the barrel.
>> But even an older barrel
that has no flavor at all of wood anymore
has a great effect on the wine.
>> (narrator) Stirring, or bâtonnage,
increases contact with the lees,
which are yeast cells and other solids
that have settled from the wine.
>> Stirring is a great way to bring flavor
into a white wine.
All of our Chardonnay is fermented in barrel,
and so, as those yeast die,
they settle down to the bottom of the barrel.
And by stirring the barrel,
we're mixing them back in with the wine
where all of the contents of the yeast cells
are being released and those are the polysaccharides
and mannoproteins that make the wine really thick
>> Because it's a small vessel,
every time you open that bung on the barrel,
you're letting a tiny bit of oxygen in.
So you get slightly more oxidative aging in a barrel
than you would in a large tank.
>> (narrator) Topping replaces wine
lost to evaporation during aging.
>> We call the evaporation from a barrel
the "angel's share."
So that's wine that is going out into the air
and the barrel is becoming lower and lower,
so we have to top that up with fresh wine
in order to prevent oxygen from getting into the barrel.
>> (narrator) Racking occurs several times
during the life of a wine.
>> Racking is where you take all of the wine
from one lot or block of grapes,
and you pump all the barrels out into a tank,
you clean all your barrels,
and then you pump the wine back into the same barrels
or different barrels, depending on the flavors you want.
>> (narrator) Blending can be done
at any time during élevage.
>> I like to let the wines age for at least eight months
before I start blending.
I think that is a good point
to really see the long-term flavors
and character of each wine.
>> (narrator) Winemakers blend wines
from different grape varieties,
vineyard sites, or styles to create a more complete wine.
>> After fermentation, the biggest enemy of wine
is access to oxygen.
>> (narrator) While wine may benefit
from a small amount of oxygen,
for most wines, protection from excessive oxidation
is achieved with the addition of sulfur dioxide.
>> Sulfur dioxide is a preservative
that's been used in wine for hundreds of years.
They used to burn sulfur wicks in barrels.
Sulfur dioxide is antioxidant,
and it's also somewhat antimicrobial.
>> (narrator) Sulfur dioxide can be added
at various points throughout the winemaking process,
depending on the condition of the fruit
and the style of the wine.
>> As the sulfur stays in the wine,
it reduces over time, relatively very quickly.
So each time we open the barrel, we'll check the sulfur,
and maybe we'll make a small addition.
>> If you're in a rush to get 'em to market
or if it's your preference,
there are stability things you can do to the wines.
Chilling, fining, filtration--
there's lots of tools to get them market-ready.
>> Filtration is removing sediment from wine
or removing yeast and bacteria.
In some cases, the wine might be a little bit hazy.
And then, it's the winemaker's opinion
that that haze could be a little bit bitter,
and a very loose filtration to clarify the wine
will make it actually taste better.
>> Sometimes, filtration just comes down
to a stability issue.
If you bottle a wine and it has enough malic acid,
or enough residual sugar, or not enough SO2
for something to go wrong in bottle,
then you wanna make sure that you've removed
any yeast or bacteria that could become active
once the wine has been bottled.
>> (narrator) Fining agents such as egg whites
or clay may be used to improve the tannin structure,
clarity, or aroma of a wine.
Bottling is the last opportunity
a winemaker has to influence wine quality.
>> I don't want to bottle a wine
until I feel that the wine has developed
and reached its apogee in terms of balance and interest.
And that can vary.
It's not on a calendar.
Every wine will develop differently.
>> (narrator) Bottling lines are complex,
with many opportunities for error.
It may not be the most romantic part of the process,
but this overlooked aspect is essential to ensure quality.
>> There are a number of faults that can affect wine quality
and, as a winemaker, that's the last thing
that you want to have happen to your wine.
>> I think the biggest problem with most wineries
is microbiological spoilage,
which can occur from a variety of sources.
And we try to be very careful
and make sure our cooperage is clean
and well maintained,
and to keep the wines topped.
>> (narrator) Spoilage from undesirable yeast
or bacteria can impact flaws,
such as high levels of volatile acidity
or barnyard aromas.
Most microbial spoilage can be avoided
through clean cellar practices.
At low levels or when done intentionally,
some wine faults may add interest to a wine.
Cork taint, however, is always seen as a flaw,
which has led to experimentation with cork alternatives.
>> Beyond natural cork, there are agglomerated corks,
there's lots of plastic closures,
there's glass closures.
And then, of course, screwcap.
There are many options available to winemakers today.
>> (narrator) The same wine
under different closures will vary in terms of consistency,
rate of oxidation, and flavor.
Cost, consumer perception, and convenience
are also important factors.
>> Patience is very important.
You can't be an impatient person when you're making wine.
Decisions are very long and slow.
>> (narrator) While the fundamental principles
of winemaking are universal,
practices vary by region, grape variety, and wine style,
allowing winemakers to craft unique expressions.
>> Every wine is a new experience.
It's got its own journey
and, if you listen carefully enough,
it'll tell you what it wants to be and where it wants to go.
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