Have you ever found yourself wondering how, exactly, a grape is turned into the Concannon Vineyard wine you love? Well, we’ve got you covered. Although a few variations exist, there is a general five-step winemaking process for both white and red wine. So sit back, relax, pour a glass and read on!
Harvest is the process of picking the grapes from the vines. On the Concannon Vineyard Estate we hand-harvest the grapes between late August and November. Concannon Vineyard Winemaker Julian Halasz determines the picking date of the grape based on ripeness, balance in acidity and, of course, taste. White wine grapes are typically harvested first and then the reds.
Crushing and Pressing
No, we don’t still stomp the grapes! White wine grapes are loaded into a press where the machine then gently presses the juice out of the grapes. Then the grapes are put into a tank without any grape skins or stems.
After the red grapes are picked, sorted and de-stemmed, the juice and berries are put into a tank for fermentation and left in contact with the grape skin, which helps extract color for the wine. The contact with grape skin is the key difference between red and white winemaking.
During the fermentation process, yeast converts the sugar in the must (freshly pressed grape juice) into ethanol, more commonly referred to as alcohol. This process begins by adding yeast to the must. Depending on the grape varietal, the fermentation process varies from a couple of days to a few weeks. To create sweet wines, such as our Late Harvest Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc, the grapes are picked later and at higher sugar levels than they are for our dry wines. Our winemaker stops the fermentation before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol.
After fermentation the wine is clarified. Clarification includes filtration and fining. Our winemaker runs the wine through fine filters with microscopic holes to catch unwanted particles. Sometimes he adds trace amounts of egg whites or bentonite (a unique clay) to help clarify the wine prior to bottling.
Aging and Bottling
Next, the wine is bottled or moved to barrel for further aging. Some red varietals, like our famous Mother Vine Cabernet Sauvignon and America’s First Petite Sirah™, are commonly transferred to oak barrels to mature for months. The wine is aged until ready and is approved by our winemaker and then bottled. Eventually that bottle makes its way to you!
All that goes into making your glass of Concannon Vineyard wine. Now that’s something to toast to Cheers!