What are the Stages of Winemaking

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When approaching the world of wine, one of the many questions is, “What is meant by winemaking?” But what exactly lies behind this oenological term? It’s not just the simple conversion of grapes into wine; rather, it’s a complex and fascinating process that involves a series of crucial stages.

Winemaking is an art, a set of practices and decisions that deeply influence the final outcome in the bottle. It encompasses a variety of techniques, from grape harvesting to fermentation, from maturation to stabilization, and finally, bottling.

However, winemaking is not merely a technical matter; it is also an expression of the land, climate, and tradition. Each wine-producing region has its own techniques and grape varieties, which are reflected in the unique character of the wines produced. The winemaker’s hand is crucial, but nature also plays a significant role: the soil, climate, and exposure to the sun all contribute to shaping the sensory profile of the wine.

Furthermore, winemaking can be considered an artistic process, where the personal interpretation of the winemaker and creative choices influence the final result. It involves finding the balance between tradition and innovation, between respecting the past and the desire to explore new paths.

What are the stages of winemaking?

There are various stages of winemaking, with significant differences between making red and white wines. Moreover, each producer follows their own philosophy. Boroli’s approach involves uncompromising quality; a vision applied at every stage of wine creation.

Starting from the ground up, here are the five stages of winemaking:

    1. Harvesting and Selection: Harvesting is the first step in wine production. This phase includes the initial choices related to the method of harvesting – manual or mechanical – and the selection of grapes. Boroli’s harvest is manual, and the selection of clusters is done on a sorting table. Additionally, during pruning, Boroli maintains a limited number of buds and performs a meticulous selection, months before the harvest, to ensure even ripening and high quality
    2. Destemming and Crushing: This stage is carried out mechanically and involves, initially, separating the clusters from the stems and then pressing them to release the juice
    3. Fermentation: After destemming, fermentation occurs, where the juice is left to ferment and the sugars in the grapes are converted into alcohol by the action of yeasts, which can also be of natural origin. Typically, fermentation is conducted in stainless steel vats, but some producers also choose concrete vats. The fermentation period can last several months depending on the type of grape and the producer’s choices. During this phase and the subsequent maturation, the role of the winemaker is essential to give the right balance and structure to the wine.
    4. Maturation: Once fermentation is complete, the wine undergoes racking and is filtered to begin the maturation or aging process. The duration of maturation varies depending on the type of wine, the specific regulations, and the choices of the producer. Depending on the wine, maturation may take place in large, medium, or small wooden barrels, or in concrete or stainless steel vats. Typically, during autumn, racking is performed to separate the liquid from the sediments at the bottom of the barrel.
    5. Bottling: In the final stages, once maturation is complete, the wine is filtered again and bottled. For some types of wine, this marks the final stage, while for others, a new period of aging in the bottle begins, which can last from 6 months to 2 years.

After these five stages of winemaking, the wine is ready for sale.

Red and White wine production: the first major difference

In general, the stages of winemaking are the same for both white and red wines, but they differ in some technical aspects. The first major difference between red and white winemaking lies in the contact with the grape skins during fermentation. Another significant difference lies in the timing and methods of maturation.

How is red wine made?

In the process of making red wine, fermentation usually occurs with the submerged cap technique, where the skins are left to macerate in the must, and the process occurs at higher temperatures. This gives the wine its characteristic red color and adds tannins and aromas. Moreover, during fermentation, when the cap of skins rises to the top, pump-overs are performed, which involve pumping the wine from below upwards to keep the skins moist.

Another characteristic of red winemaking is the method of maturation, which, by regulation, is usually longer and divided into aging in barrels and bottles.

Boroli’s Barolos, both the Cru and the classics, are hand-harvested at different times to maintain perfect uniformity of the grapes and remain separated until bottling. The fermentation and maceration with a submerged cap take place in stainless steel vats. After at least 18 months of aging in wood, the different micro-cuvées are skillfully blended and the wine is bottled, completing the final period of maturation.

The Nebbiolo by Boroli, also hand-harvested, undergoes cryomaceration for 24/48 hours. Afterwards, fermentation and maceration take place in steel, followed by a few months of aging in oak barrels.

How is white wine made?

In making white wine, during fermentation, the skins are almost immediately removed after crushing, preventing excessive coloration of the wine. The process occurs at lower temperatures to preserve the fresh and fruity aromas.

Another peculiarity of white winemaking is related to maturation, which is shorter and typically does not include a period of aging in the bottle.

Boroli’s Langhe Chardonnay “Bel Amì”, our only white wine, is hand-harvested in the vineyard just meters from the winery. We perform cryomaceration for 24/48 hours to extract all the distinctive aromas of the variety. Subsequently, fermentation and maceration occur in steel, followed by a few months of aging in oak barrels to enhance the perfect balance between minerality and freshness.

In conclusion, winemaking is a process that requires precision, care, knowledge, and a deep respect for the rhythms of nature. The different stages of winemaking and the distinctions between red and white winemaking demonstrate the versatility and complexity of this process, and how each choice can change the final organoleptic characteristics of the wine.

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