It starts with the winery owner. Is the owner going to make the wine? Is the owner going to hire a wine maker?
Most every one agrees that great wine starts with quality grapes. Sometimes you have grapes growing near the winery and sometimes you have to buy grapes from a vineyard owner in your desired geographic region or Appalachian.
The important part is what ever you do the wine resulting from the process has to taste good to a wide group of consumers who can become fans of your wine label. The whole purpose of making wine is to give pleasure to the consumer. How the consumer learns about your wine is word of mouth where one person tells another person who tells another person. This can be heightened by hosting winemaker dinners, BBQ’s or other events where your label is featured.
Wine has to be made, bottled, shipped, received and kept at a temperature not to exceed 62 degrees Fahrenheit. Good wine shipped to, for example, Scottsdale, Arizona may sour in the bottle due to heat exposure even though the Sommelier quickly puts the bottle into the storage cellar at 59 degrees.
Oxidizing the wine before your drink it may bring out the rich flavors of the wine. There ae fancy pouring devices and intricately styled decanters. What ever you do, once the wine is opened in the restaurant, do not let that bottle leave the table, even if the server promised to put it into a decanter in the back room. Have the server pour the wine into the decanter at your table.
Making good wine is a skill, making fine wine is an art. Know your labels, the brand, the winery and know who the winemaker is and stick to fine wine that appeals to you.
What makes great grapes: soil, water access, climate, weather trends, the sun and the angle of the sunlight, then the human inputs of: pruning, irrigation systems, soil treatments, weed abatement, pest management, harvest timing and techniques. From the vineyard the grapes are cut from the vine and within hours are put into a crusher at the winery to begin the process of extracting juice.
Most winemakers agree to let nature make the wine rather than trying to manipulate the wine into shape at the winery.
European red wine is said to be earthy, California red wine is said to taste like a bowl of fresh berries. A famous Italian vintner once said that European wine is like liking dirt, while California wine is like eating fresh blueberries and cherries in one sitting.
The job of the winemaker takes them out into the vineyard to see and observe the grapes while they grow then tasting the grape by sampling in the vineyard. They know that you can make bad wine with great grapes but you can’t make great wine with bad grapes.
Harvest timing is important. You want the grape to grow and develop, the whole time you have to watch over your shoulder the weather; patterns and predictions about rainfall. Rain at harvest time can do a great deal of damage to the crop. The winemaker pays attention to the tannin in the seeds and skins as well as the sugar levels striving for that delicate point were the grape is mature and it’s time to sever it from the vine.
After the process of harvest the process of making wine begins. Crushing and fermenting, measuring yeast content either natural yeast or commercial yeast developing some complexity to the wine. The yeast eats the grape sugars and metabolize them into alcohol.
Then comes the choice of aging vessel: tank, concrete, oak. The tanks are stainless steel, wine aged in concrete may have a higher level of preserved fruit characteristics. Oak barrels are usually French Oak or American Oak. Most use new French Oak with a signature toast to the barrel. Taste, flavor, fruitiness, minerality, aroma, oxygen levels are all a nurturing part of the choice of aging vessel.
Filtering is an important step to the process as it clarifies and stabilizes the wine. This helps produce the clear and not cloudy appearance to the finished wine.
After a period of time of bulk aging comes the bottling process. This is where you choose the size and shape of the bottle, design the label and choose the closure method. Some wineries don’t understand the bottle is going into your wine refrigerator that holds a certain dimension of 750ml bottle. The label is where you want to put in some time and energy making an appealing label that will help with the winery’s marketing function. Cork or screw top is the big debate today. You likely won’t find wine that is priced over $50 per bottle with a screw top. Today there are many wines priced under $50 that have chosen the convenience of the screw top. They choice is with the consumer. Old tradition favors the cork and todays millennials are ok with the screw top.
In the hands of the consumer or the wine columnist they are making judgements about: Smell, balance, depth, finish and the overall taste to the taste buds that the wine delivers.