If you’ve but a smidge of interest in the activities of the wine industry, you might have heard that we currently find ourselves in harvest season. Forget Christmas. For winemakers and wine lovers alike, this can be the most wonderful time of the year.
Winemakers get to (literally) reap the fruit of their year-long labour. And in some cases, they involve the public! We’re looking at you, Robertson.
Harvest season is a time of nonstop work for wineries. Some start harvesting as early as 2 am in warmer regions! But what happens after the grapes have been picked from the vineyard? And how do viticulturists set up their vineyards for greatness?
We take a closer look into the process from grape to glass. Read more below:
Setting up for grapeness
– The vine
“Where do vineyards come from?” the young wine lover asked his friend. Well, the story goes like this. One would think that a vine just grows in its natural form. This thinking makes sense, but it isn’t how it really works. In the 1900s (long ago) there was an outbreak of Phylloxera.
What’s that? Phylloxera is a pest that feeds on the scions (top half) of American vines and the rootstocks (bottom half) of French vines. This disease was spread by ship travel, and it wasn’t long before the entire world’s vineyards were contaminated.
The solution is interesting. Because the Phylloxera feeds only on American scions and French rootstocks, viticulturists fused the “safe” halves of the two vine types. So today, all vines are a fusion of American rootstocks and French scions. Vines intended for winemaking purposes are produced in vine nurseries.
Trellising refers to the way the vines in a vineyard are trained. Vines are trained into the style that will best assist with canopy management and controlling yields. This is all very technical but there are systems that have proven to work better than others.
The most popular trellising system in South Africa is called the split cordon. The cordon is the “arms” of the vine – the section that carries leaves and grapes. This system of trellising works well because it distributes the leaves of the vine in a way that protects the grapes from the sun but also exposes the leaves to the right amount of rays for optimal photosynthesis.
Sometimes the made wine is left to mature even further, in order to bring out its best qualities. There are a few different ageing techniques. Each is applied for its unique purpose and benefits.
Oak ageing: Responsible for imparting a rich texture and notes like vanilla, oak, butter and smoke on the nose and palate alike.
Amphora tanks: Ageing in a round, concrete tank that allows the wine to develop its natural characteristics even further
Ageing on the lees: Lees are the deposits of dead yeast cells. Ageing on the less allows the finished wine to extract yeast flavours of nut, bread and butter. This is a popular method in Champagne/MCC making, and is gaining popularity as an ageing alternative to oak in the ageing of Chardonnay.
Ageing in steel tanks: This allows for the wine to further develop their own characteristics without the addition of any external aromatic or texture components.
Bottling & Distributing
After the wine is deemed ready by the winemaking team, it goes on to get bottled. Most wines are bottled in the standard 750ml, but you’ve surely heard of the elusive Magnum bottle. At 1,5l, it’s quite a large bottle of wine. But did you know that the official sizing of wine bottles goes up all the way to the 15l Nebuchadnezzar?
The bottled wine is distributed to various local & international suppliers. According to supply and demand, the winery distributes the wine as widely or exclusively as necessary.
Delivered straight to your glass
The last step of the process from grape to glass is you, the end consumer. We have scoped bottled wines from across the country to bring you the ones that you’ll love most.
Don’t know where to get started? Get started on your wine journey today. Try one of the wines below: