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Table of Contents

Harvest Time!
Harvesting the Grapes

Crushing and Mixing


The Juice, Skin and Seeds

Fermentation and Pressing


The Finer Points

Clarification and Stabilization


Perfecting the Wine

Pre-Bottling and Bottling


The Bottling Process and
Maturation

Important Information
This book is copyright 2012 with all rights reserved. It is illegal to copy,
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contribute to the copying, distribution, or creating of derivative works of this book.
A lot of time has gone into this book. This material is protected by U.S. and
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All information contained in this book is for personal entertainment purposes only,
and none of it is considered business or personal advice. By reading further,
you agree to indemnify Sunshine Mountain Vineyard from any and all
consequences that may result from your interpretation of the material.

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Delicious Wine

Steps

Harvest Time!
Harvesting the Grapes

Step 1: Harvesting The Grapes


arvesting the grapes based on their ripeness is the first crucial step of
winemaking that will later on influence the style of wine you can create. In
addition to ripeness, the decision of harvesting the grapes can also be taken
depending on the meteorological conditions. To put it simply, in case of
the extreme rain, hail, waves of heat or frost, it is advisable to change your pre-scheduled
harvesting timetable in order to prevent the alteration of the grapes and the vine diseases.
Lets review the best periods for harvesting and what grape ripeness refers to.

Harvesting timetable
Since grapes require sufficient sunlight in order to ripen, the vineyards across the globe are
located between 30 and 50 degrees latitude in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
While located in temperate climates, not all grapes ripen in the same period of the year, but
rather according to their proximity to the Equator. Consequentially, the harvest season for the
Cypriot vineyards starts in early July, whereas in California the grapes can be picked in late
July and early August. Nonetheless, the harvesting is done during October in most regions
from the Northern hemisphere, the only exception to the rule being the ice wine grapes. In the
Southern hemisphere, the harvesting takes place between early February until late April and
at times it lasts until June.

What does grape ripeness entail?


Unlike other fruits, grapes will not continue to
ripen once they are removed from the vine and
are considered fully matured at that point. In
other words, the physical and chemical properties
of the grapes after the harvest are the main
responsible for the wines quality. Essentially,
the ripeness of the grapes is indicated by three
factors, namely tannin levels, sugar and pH levels.
Establishing the proper levels of sugar in the
grapes is a process known as must weight a
reference to the fact that approximately 90
percent of the grape juice mixtures are dissolved
sugars. While dubbed weight, the process entails calculating the density of the must in
comparison with the gravity of distilled water. The sugar levels are measured constantly
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after veraison the timetable when the grapes start changing color with a hydrometer or
a refractometer. More often than not, a good indicator that you should harvest the grapes is
when the sugar levels are above 25 brix.
Acid levels are strictly dependant on sugar levels, meaning that as the latter ones begin to
increase the acidity of the grapes decreases. The main role of the natural grapes acids consist
of the development of the aroma and flavor compounds. In short, the acidity is what makes
pairing wines and foods possible. The most important acid found and measured in must and
the main responsible for the taste of the wine is the tartaric acid. Even though the acidity will
vary according to the wine, the TA levels are usually between 0.6 and 0.8 percent for red wine
and 0.65 and 0.85 for white wine.
The pH levels of grapes typically point out the amount of free hydrogen ions and are
indicators of the wines acidity (the normal values being between 3 and 3.4). Even though
low pH levels indicate a high acidity of the wine, winemakers are more concerned about
overriping, as it leads to dull flavors, colors and wine faults caused by spoilage.

Did you Know?

We dont drink wine as much as consume it.


According to the Wine Institute, the United States consumes
over 800 million gallons of wine each year. By some estimates, 90% of all US wine is grown in California, with an
estimated retail value of $19.9 billion. Over a hundred grape
varieties are grown in California. The seven leading grape varietals are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot
noir, Sauvignon blanc, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

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Crushing and Mixing


The Juice, Skin, and Seeds

Step 2: Crushing And Mixing The Juice, Skins And Seeds


fter harvesting, the second step in winemaking comprises of crushing and
destemming the grapes from their rachis. In small-scale winemaking, both
processes can be done simultaneously by trampling the grapes barefooted. On
the other hand, in renowned wineries and large-scale winemaking facilities, destemming and
crushing is done with specialized equipment. Irrespective of the amount of wine you intend
to make, it is necessary to point out that crushing and mixing are done differently for white
and red wine. On a side note, since the juice obtained from crushing is the highest quality,
pressing is not a mandatory step in winemaking.

White Wine
Processing white wine does not imply crushing or destemming in order to avoid the extraction
of the tannins from the seeds and skins of the grapes.
In general, winemakers place the stems along with
the berries in the press to facilitate the flowing of juice
past the flatten skins. Placing the stem into the press
also has the function of creating tight clusters that
typically gather at the edge of the press and use as
many berries as possible.
However, there are certain exceptions when
winemakers allow a brief period of contact with the
grapes skin, frequently when they want to correct
overly acidic grapes. While the vast majority of
vineyards have given up such practices since the
1970s, Californian winemakers still need to undergo
the process in the production of Chardonnay and
Sauvignon Blanc.
Another noteworthy function of keeping the skins and
berries together for a certain periods is to produce
rose-colored wines. Essentially, the two remain in contact until they acquire the desired
color. Afterwards, the juice is pressed to eliminate the skins and left for fermentation as if the
winemaker was producing white wine.

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Red Wine
Because red wines derive their colors from the grape
skin, the contact of the latter with the juice is essential
for color extractions. In other words, the process of
making red wine consists of destemming and crushing
the berries and leaving them together with the skins in
a tank for the first fermentation. Because red grapes
already have high levels of tannins, adding the stems
in the mixture is not necessary. Moreover, the stems
also alter the aroma of the wine, namely it leaves a
vegetal odor similar to one of green bell peppers.
The winemaker can add the stem in the mixture in
the remote possibility that the grapes do not contain
the optimal amount of tannins. The only acceptable
time when this practice is allowed is when the stems
are ripe and started to turn brown. However, we do
not recommend this at all because of the aeromatics
caused by this process.

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Pressing and Fermentation


The Finer Points

Step 3: Pressing And Fermentation


n some cases, the primary fermentation of the wine does not necessitate the
addition of cultivated yeast, because a wildly grown specimen is already present on
the surface of the grape. However, this approach often leads to the results that are
difficult to predict, because the wild variety of yeast does not always permit the full primary
fermentation to take place.
If the fermentation process is not completed, the wine becomes sweeter than it was originally
intended. Utilizing wild varieties of yeast is acceptable in the production of vinegar, but
adding cultivated yeast is highly advisable in wine production.
Choosing the strain and assortment of yeast that works best with the type of grapes you
intend to use and the wine that you want to create is crucial. It is important to remember that
the cultivated varieties of yeast have been tailored according to different types of wine. This
means that while a strain that was adjusted for white wine will emphasize the fruit-like taste,
a strain that suits the red wine has superior phenolic stabilization properties, which helps
enhance the taste and stabilize the color of the beverage.
The other factors that play a role in opting for the right type of yeast include the rate and
temperature of fermentation, the production of foam, flocculation, its compatibility with the
malolactic bacteria (for the secondary fermentation) and the production of H2S, SO2, volatile
acids or acetaldehyde.
In the primary fermentation process, each cell of yeast will begin feeding on the sugar
and multiplying, generating CO2 and alcohol. The temperature in this phase will have an
important impact on the wines taste, but also on the speed of the process. Increasing the
temperature beyond the recommended limits (22-25 degrees Celsius for red wine and 15-18
degrees Celsius for white wine) is not advisable, because it may negatively affect the yeasts
proficiency.
In order to learn the alcohol concentration of the wine, you need to know the quantity of
sugar. The resulting quantity of alcohol in the wine is approximately half of the quantity of
the sugar, so assuming that you want to create an assortment with 16% alcohol, then it should
originally contain 32% sugar.
Measuring the sugar concentration can be performed with specialized instruments like
hydrometers or saccharometers. You can enhance the resulting alcohol concentration by
adding extra sugar, a procedure referred to as chaptalization, but you need to make sure that
the strain of yeast you use can withstand higher alcohol concentrations.
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Malolactic Fermentation
When the primary fermentation is complete, the wine will need to undergo a second one
which is known as malolactic fermentation (MLF). This process eliminates the harsh and
bitter taste cause by the presence of the malic acid through the introduction of certain lactic
acid bacteria (Oenococcus oeni, Lactobacillus, etc.). In essence, the role of these bacteria
comprises of malic acid consumption and the release of energy. It is necessary to point out
that malolactic fermentation should be done prior to bottling the wine. If it starts on its own
after the wine is bottled, the effects are quite dire.

Did you Know?

Enologists in Valparaiso, Chile performed a landmark study


in 2010 to detect early problematic fermentations in Cabernet Sauvignon. 32 samples were analyzed for sugars, alcohols, organic acids, and nitrogen compounds by Mid-infrared spectroscopy. Results indicated that it is feasible to find a
statistical methodology to detect problem fermentations. At
72h 100% of the fermentation was classified correctly, which
will assist enologists in fault detection and correction.

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Clarification and Stabilization


Perfecting the Wine

Step 4: Clarification And Stabilization


fter completing the malolactic fermentation, you are entering the final stages of the
wine making process and you are one step closer to enjoying your very own beverage.
However, there are still a few things that you need to do in order to create a clear,
stabilized wine.
Clarity is one of the mandatory wine qualities, particularly in the case of white wine which presents a
higher level of transparency. Therefore, the debris generated in the wine making process as well as the
remnants of yeast cells or grape skins have to be eliminated through clarification. When the malolactic
fermentation ceases, the CO2 gas will no longer generate the bubbles that brought all those particles to
the surface.
As a consequence, the beverage becomes still and the gravitational force starts to draw the residues
towards the bottom of the storage container. While the larger debris such as grape skin fragments do not
take more than a couple of days to settle, yeast and similarly small cells need a few weeks. At the same
time, the small dimension of the bacteria cells do not allow them to settle over time. Therefore, the wine
is fully clarified by either racking or filtration.

Racking
Racking is essentially a decantation process, which helps wine makers eliminate the so called lees that
accumulate at the bottom. Most wines require you to perform the racking 2-3 times before they develop
the crystal-clear aspect, but you can repeat the operation as many times as necessary. You can rack the
smaller carboy by siphoning it with a clear plastic tube, whereas for a larger barrel or drum, you will
need a pump.
With regards to the perfect time to perform the racking, for white assortments of wine it can be done
right after the primary fermentation, while for the red assortments of wine you will have to wait for the
malolactic fermentation to complete.

Filtration
Filtering the wine is an alternative method of eliminating the particles and microorganisms in the wine,
which aids in stabilizing the beverage. However, the downside is that filtering the wine for particles
with around 0.65 micrometers lightens its texture and color significantly. While it does not sterilize it
completely, filtration will substantially decrease the presence of particles and bacteria.
You will at this point need to add preservatives and sulfur dioxide is one of the most frequently
utilized. Its basic functions comprise of acting as microbial agent and preventing the oxidation of the
wine. Sulfur dioxide also stabilizes the color of the wine and averts spoilage issues or the restart of the
malolactic fermentation while in the bottle.
Stabilizing the wine can be done by cold application, heat application or a combination of the two. The
cold stabilization process entails keeping it chilled at very low temperatures for approximately one week
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for the purpose of determining the extra potassium bitartrate to precipitate. The hot stabilization on the
other hand involves treating the wine with bentonite and keeping it at higher temperatures in order to
extract the excessive proteins. However, certain assortments of wine require a combination of the two.

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Pre-Bottling and Bottling


The Bottling process and
Maturation

Step 5: Pre-Bottling, Bottling, Maturation


t this point, your wine should be completing the stabilization and clarification phases, so the
next logical step implies preparing to bottle it. All experts in the field advise that you should not
rush to bottle the wine before it has time to finish each stage, because otherwise its quality and
bouquet will be negatively affected.
Popular knowledge dictates that once the beverage is cleared and stabilized, the bottling process should begin.
While you do not really need the expertise of a chemist to let you know when the wine is ready for bottling,
keep in mind that even small sediments can affect its clarity and you want to avoid having to open your entire
collection for decanting after a few weeks.
Furthermore, adding sorbate to the wine prior to bottling it is an effective way to ensure that the level of sulfur
dioxide is maintained between 30 and 50 PPM. Inhibiting the secondary malolactic fermentation is mandatory
if you want to prevent unpredictable results. While sterile filtration can achieve similar results, most home wine
makers cannot afford the extensive costs of such equipment. You can begin the process by shopping for wine
bottles in the shape and color of your choosing. Standard bottles are excellent for this task and you can find them
at local stores at very affordable prices.

Bottles
If the bottles have been used for something else prior to storing wine, then
you will want to make sure that they are perfectly clean, unlabeled and
without any chipping. You can remove the labels on the bottle quite easily
with nothing more than a solution comprising of hot water and washing
soda by rinsing with an appropriate brush.
On a side note, if you come across cold stable glues, then you will need a
mixture of hot water and ammonia to remove the labels. The bottles can
then be sterilized with bleach and bathed in citric acid solutions in order
to neutralize it. Rinse the bottles with water and allow them to dry.

Corks

Depending on the type of bottles you opted for as wine containers, you
will need to decide on the appropriate type of cork. Standard corks
require a corker to open and are the most popular solutions due to their
ability to age wine. However, there are also corks that can be screwed
on the bottle and crown caps, but their main impediment is that they
make quick oxidation a certainty. When using normal corks, soaking
them in a mixture of 1/5 parts sulfite and 4/5 water will help you prevent
contamination.
Bottle fillers are not mandatory, but they will allow you to transfer
the wine to the bottles with the minimal air exposure. At the same time, corking them immediately is highly
advisable. Once filled, the bottles should be arranged with the cork pointing upwards and left in this position for
3 to 5 days. The scope of this practice is equalizing the pressure in the bottle and drying the cork. After 3-5 days,
the bottles can be turned upside down and placed in a cool and dry location.

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Cheers to
Good wine! :-)
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