What Winemakers Don’t Tell You About Making Wine

11 July 2020

What Winemakers Don’t Tell You About Making Wine

The role of winemaker is romanticized. It conjures up images of daily wine tastings, schmoozing with VIPs, and tranquil vineyards.

But the truth is that winemakers deal with a lot of variables and uncertainty to produce the wine in your glass.

So, let’s talk about what don’t winemakers tell you about making wine!

The Type of Winery Defines Your Role

First of all, winemaking is not a one size fits all profession. The type of winery has a lot to do with the job.

  1. Estate Winery: Wines made only with grapes from vineyards owned by the winery. Production of wine takes place entirely on the winery’s property.
  2. Winery Cooperative: Local growers sell their grapes to a regional winery. Then, the winery produces, markets, and sells the wine. These are common in regions with smaller vineyard sizes and lower wine prices.
  3. Custom Crush: a winery that offers contract winemaking services to clients. Services may include processing fruit, cellaring, blending, bottling, and laboratory analysis.

So now that we know about where a winemaker might work, let’s start from the beginning: at harvest.

Winemaking During Harvest

Harvest is the busiest season in the winery for everyone: not just the winemaker. Literal tons of grapes arrive for processing daily. Then the winemaking begins.

Let’s peek behind the curtain of a winery’s most exciting time of year.

There is No Secret Formula For Harvest

Deciding when to pick the grapes is one of the winemaker’s most important decisions. Pick too early and acidity might be too high, sugars not high enough, and tannins too green.

Pick too late and you’ll have the opposite problems. All winemakers have a different approach for making the picking decision. Some rely on science, others rely on their senses, and some rely on both.

Adelaida Vineyards & Winery produces wine from over 135 acres of estate owned vineyards in Paso Robles, CA. Assistant Winemaker Ryan Bosc says,