WINE PRODUCTION

OENOLOGY

English wine is the fermented juice of freshly picked grapes grown in England & Wales. Oenology is the science of wine and viniculture or vinification the practical art of wine production.

The wine maker combines both the art and the science to produce quality wines. The principle of wine making is that sugar in the grape is converted by wine yeast into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.

This complex micro-biological chain is called fermentation and, unimpeded, will continue until all the fermentable sugars are converted. The skill of the wine maker lies in knowing how to treat this volatile liquid.

Pressing the Grapes

The harvest grapes are brought to the winery as quickly as possible. Delay would allow the fruit to oxidise and take on off-flavours. On arrival at the press the bunches of grapes are usually, but not always, de-stemmed and then milled to break up the berries. A careful amount of sulphur dioxide may be added (used in some vineyards) as sterilant and the grapes then pressed. There are several types of wine press – most still visibly derived from the traditional basket and screw spindle design. Modern presses are increasingly mechanised and automated, one particular group being based on the use of pneumatic pressure. The press we use is a pneumatic press and will hold up to a tonne of grapes per press. The quality of the juice released from the grape during pressing is so high it can be put straight in to the fermentation tanks for fermentation to begin. The pressing cycle takes about 2 to 2.5 hours, at the end of which all the juice is extracted only leaving the almost dry residue to be put back on to the vineyard.

Chapterisation

Chaptalisation is the process whereby sugar is added in order to bring the eventual alcoholic content in the grapes was not high enough. The must is then inoculated with pure culture of wine yeast and fermentation begins, English wine is remarkable for its freshness, aroma and delicacy of flavour. In order to capture this, the fermentation (which gives off heat) must not be allowed to run too hot and so ‘boil off’ the flavours but must be maintained at an average temperature no higher than 16 degrees C. This fermentation, at first very vigorous and then slowing down, will last for up to three weeks until all the sugar is converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The new wine is ‘racked off’ it’s sediment into a clean tank and then left to mature. Night air will chill the winery and cold-stabilise the wine, bringing out any crystalline deposits. The new style wineries in England now have controlled temperature rooms built into their buildings to manage red and white style wines.

NUNC EST BIBENDUM

“Now we must drink.”

QUINTUS HORATIUS FLACCUS