While all great wines do indeed start with great grapes, the winemaker's influence really does make or break the final outcome of a wine. Part scientist, part artist, the winemaker must deliberate and labor over many variables and decisions during the process of shepherding fruit through to its ultimate destiny as fermented glory.
But a few of the decisions a winemaker is entrusted to make:
- When to Harvest: juice flavor, sugar level, acidity, upcoming weather, skin conditions, rot conditions, seed ripeness.
- Pressing/Crushing & Fermentation: sorting, pressing cuts, crushing vs. destemming only, use of SO2, yeast types, malolactic fermentation, acid and sugar correction, barrel choices, punchdown / pumpover regimen, temperature management
- Aging: time in barrel, racking, blending, bottling
There are many confounding factors in making winemaking decisions. To learn more I rely on my friend, Aimee Baker, head winemaker at Pichetti Winery. She is teaching "Wine Appreciation: From Vineyard to Glass" on Monday Jan 25th and Feb 1st at Savvy Cellar Wines in Redwood City, CA. Come learn from her experience, gut feel and execution skills in making great wine. (Pre-registration required).