How Wine Is Made Professionally




Introduction: How Wine Is Made Professionally

Have you ever had wine and wondered how it was made?  This instructable will guide you through the steps on how to turn grapes into wine.  This is not your typical instructable showing you how to make wine with store bought grapes, five gallon bucket, and yeast.  My family owns a winery in south-west Iowa near Glenwood, and this instructable will go in depth of how we make wine starting from harvesting the grapes to bottling the wine.

This instrucable is for more advanced wine makers or grape growers that may want to expand their wine making knowledge or start up a wine business themselves.  Start up costs, as you can imagine, is relatively expensive.  Items you will need include:
   PH test strips
   Titratable Acid (TA) tester
   BRIX tester
   Grape Harvesting tools
   Grape crusher and de-stemmer
   Grape Press
   Pumps, hoses, clamps
   Stainless steel tanks
   Oak Barrels
   Wine bottler
   Bottle Foils
   Custom Lables
   Various chemical (more in depth in later steps)
   A building to do it all in

The process of making wine will take five months for sweeter wines and up to three plus years for drier wines.

Before attempting to make wine be sure to check your own state laws and regulations.  Once again, this instuctable is explaining how our winery makes wine, every winery has their own ways of making wine based off their own experience and knowledge.

Step 1: Pre-Harvest

Fruit Testing
   • For some wines the grapes are harvested based on taste and mouth feel of the grape.   Grapes for our Reserve St Croix, St Croix, and Princes Rachel’s Blush wines are picked based on the taste of the grape.

   • Some grapes are picked based solely on the BRIX (dissolved solids or sugar).   Edelweiss is one of these grapes.   If the BRIX is over 15% then a very "labrusca" or foxy flavor develops which is not desirable in wines.

   • Chemical Make-up is the most widely used parameter for harvesting grapes.
        PH  between 3.00 and 3.70
        Titratable Acidity (TA) between 8.00 and 12.00
        BRIX as close to 22% and up to 30%.

Grape Sample Process
A minimum of 100 grapes is required for fruit testing to ensure they have the correct sugar content, acid level, and PH levels.  If a section of grapes is over 400 plants then a sample quantity is one grape from every 4 plants.   Grapes are not selected from the end 3 plants of a row unless there are less than 100 plants.  Only one grape is selected from a plant unless there are fewer than 100 plants.    Grapes are selected by blind selection (you do not look at the cluster when selecting the grape).  If you look you will picked the best looking fruit.   When selecting the fruit alternate between top of cluster, middle of cluster, and bottom of cluster.   Do not discard bad or under ripe grapes.

Step 2: Harvest

   • Remove netting
   • Clean and sanitize picking buckets
   • Clean and sanitize harvest tools
   • Clean and sanitize crusher/de-stemmer
   • Clean and sanitize pumps and hoses
   • Clean and sanitize press
   • Clean and sanitize fermentation tanks

   1. Start early in the morning to preserve the cool temperature of the grapes.
   2. Pick all grapes of a specific variety.
   3. Pick second crop grapes (significantly under ripe grapes) and drop them to the ground.
   4. Remove damaged grapes from the cluster.  If there are too many damaged grapes on the cluster the entire cluster is dropped to the ground.
   5. Good grapes are harvested by hand and collected in 5 gallon buckets.
   6. Once a bucket is full they transported to the crush pad.

Step 3: Crush Pad

   1. Pour buckets of grapes as they arrive at the winery into the crusher/de-stemmer hopper.  
   2. Inspect them for bugs and damaged fruit.   Some bugs such as Multi-Colored Asian Lady Beatles (Malbs) have a very low threshold for wine.  Only 6 Malbs per 500 pounds of fruit can ruin the wine.
   3. After inspection, the fruit is run through the crusher/de-stemmer.

For grapes making white and blush wines
      1. Must (crushed grapes) is put into the press.
      2. Add rice hulls as the must is put into the press to aid in juice extraction.
         • Approximately 1800 pounds of fresh must can be run through our 80 gallon press.
      3. Pump extracted juice into a tank with a cooling jacket. A cooling jacket is a stainless steel jacket which surrounds the tank.  Chilled glycol is pumped through the cooling jacket which in turn cools the wine.
      4. Add 35ppm (parts per million) of SO2  to the juice to prevent spoilage.
      5. Cool juice to approximately 21 degrees Fahrenheit.

   For grapes making red wines
       1. Put must directly into fermentation tanks.
       2. Store tanks in a cooled environment to aid in temperature control.  
       3. Add 45ppm (parts per million) of SO2 to the must to prevent spoilage.

Step 4: Fermentation

Red wines
   • Maceration
       1. Put must directly into fermentation tanks.
       2. Store tanks in a cooled environment to aid in temperature control. 
       3. Add 45ppm (parts per million) of SO2  to the must to prevent spoilage.
       4. Add yeast to the must.   The fermentation process extracts the tannins (coloring agents and flavor compounds from the skins and seeds).
       5. Press the must when the fermentation process is 60-70% complete.   Approximately 2400 pounds of macerated fruit can be run through the 80 gallon press.  Rice hulls are also added during the pressing of the macerated must.
       6. Pump the juice into a tank for the completion of fermentation.

   • Malolatic Fermentation
       • Some red wines will under go malolatic fermentation.   A culture is added to the wine after the primary fermentation.   The culture converts the malic acid to latic acid.   This softens the wine and gives the wine a buttery flavor.

White wines
   1. "Rack" (described in next step)  juice once it has been cooled to 21 degrees Fahrenheit.
   2. Add yeast when the temperature of the juice reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
   3. Keep temperature under 70 degrees Fahrenheit during fermentation

Step 5: Racking

After the primary and malolatic fermentation is complete the following steps take place after each racking:
    1. Clean and Sanitize pumps, hoses, and tanks.
    2. Pump wine from one tank to another.
    3. Take free SO2,  PH, and TA tests.
    4. Add SO2 to maintain a 40-60ppm level.
    5. Monitor PH to ensure stability.   If PH rises above 3.8 corrective actions are taken.   (Several options exists.  To complex to
      explain at this point)
    6. Monitor TA
    7. Taste wine to ensure no spoilage is occurring.

(Racking occurs, one month, two months, and four months after fermentation)

Step 6: Aging

Stainless Steel Barrels
The majority of our wines are aged in stainless steel.    The time period ranges from 5 months, for sweet wines, to 3 years for dry wines.

Oak Barrels
Aging in oak depends on age of the oak barrel.   Wine can become over oaked if stored to long in new barrels.   The basic rule of thumb is 6-9 months for new barrels, 9-12 months for 1 year barrels, and 12-16 months for 2 year barrels. Barrels older than two years are switched from red to dry white wines to give them a hint of oak.

Test wines every 1-2 months in the same manner as performed during racking.

Rack wines every 3-9 months after the initial racking process.

Step 7: Finishing

1. Cold Stabilizing
To prevent tartaric salts from forming in bottled wines, the wine is cold stabilized.   Cold stabilizing is a process of chilling the bulk wine to a lower temperature than what the customers may store the wine.  
   1. Chill wine to a set temperature, i.e. 30 degrees Fahrenheit
   2. Seed with cream of tartar.  (The seeding cuts the process from 2 weeks to 2 days.)   
   3. Circulated the wine and maintain temperature for 2 days.

2. Heat Stabilizing
To prevent proteins from creating haze when the bottled wine is subjected to high temperatures, i.e. 110-120 degrees Fahrenheit.   Several products can be used but the most common is bentonite.  Bentonite has a high purity with high montomorillonite content and can be used at any stage of the wine making process to clarify juice, wine, and cider.  Its negative charge reacts to positively charged particles to precipitate them out.  It prevents cloudiness while removing heat sensitive proteins.   The bentonite is heated and mixed into the wine.   After 2-4 days the wine is racked to remove the bentonite.  

3. Hydrogen Sulfide removal
Copper sulfate is used to remove hydrogen sulfide and other reduced sulfur compounds which are the source of 'rotten egg' like smells.  For best results, use as soon as possible after fermentation.  If racking the wine once or twice during fermentation didn't eliminate the problem.  Bench tests are used to determine the minimum effective dose.

4. Color Correction
PVPP, Divergan F, powder (Polyvinylpolypyrrolidone), is used primarily with white wines which provides rapid clarification, reduction in bitterness, and reduction of brown colors in white wines. It also reduces a lot of color in red wines but improves the hue.

Step 8: Blending

Most wines are blended to incorporate various complexities into the wine. 
   1. Utilize Bench trials to determine the best blends.  
   2. Perform customer trials  to determine marketability of the tested blends after acceptable blends are created,
   3. Perform stabilization processes after wines are blended

Step 9: Bottling

   1. Adjust free SO2 between 30-50 ppm up to 2 weeks prior to bottling. 
   2. Add potassium sorbate to prevent bottle fermentation if residual sugar is present in the wine,
   3. Clean and sanitize equipment used in the bottling process.  Equipment includes:
      • Hoses
      • Clamps
      • Pumps
      • Filter components
      • Bottling machine
      • Corker.
   4. Clean and sanitize bottles using a SO2 solution.
   5. Test bottling machine to ensure the proper quantity of wine is added to the bottles.

   1. Pump wine through a wine filter. 
        • Wines with residual sugar are filter with an absolute .45micron filter.  
        • Dry wines are filter with a 1 micron filter.
   2. Wine passes though the filter and enters the bottling machine reservoir.
   3. Place bottles on the bottling machine to fill the bottles.
   4. Cork the bottles after they are filled
   5. Place foils on each bottle
   6. Use a foil shrink to shrink foils to the bottle
   7. Clean bottles to remove any dust or wine that may have gathered on the outside of the bottle.
   8. Label the bottles.
   9. Store bottles until ready to sell.

Once the wines are labeled they are ready to sell and concludes the wine making process.  Making wine takes a lot of patients, time, and trials.  Several years of experience is needed to get a bottle of wine to a selling point, and many more years to perfect it.  Like anything else, making wine is an art and is up for interpretation.

I hope you enjoyed learning about how we make wine at Kings Crossing Vineyard and Winery.  We produce about 7000 bottles of wine a year for our winery and produce over 2000 bottles a year for other organizations.

If you would like more information about our winery or wines please visit our web page.

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very informative, I was expecting the old yeast, sugar, 5 gallon bucket Instructable! I would love to learn more, perhaps someday.