Winter at the Wineries
Here we are in the spring of 2021. Life may still contain a great deal of uncertainties, but there are a few things we know for sure. Viticulturists and winemakers have been busy over the winter.
In the Vineyards
Pruning usually begins in late November and can run into late January. All the wood that’s been cut off the vines is disposed of. Many wineries grind up this wood and then place the bits back underneath the vines to help regenerate the soil. Once this is complete, workers usually head back out to the vineyard to replace any damaged trellises, posts or broken wires. Vines are then attached to the lowest wires to get them ready for spring.
By the time you read this, the sap will be rising through the vines. Many of the vines may weep sap out of the spots where they were trimmed. Now the vines are ready to bloom.
In the Cellar
After the fall grape harvest, there’s much left to do. Your favourite winemaker is hard at work in the cellar. This is where the magic takes place as they monitor their wines for changes and ensure they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Depending on the winery and the wine, this is also a time when winemakers move their white wines from one barrel to another. This is part of the process to get the tannins to soften. It also helps the wines stabilize.
During this time, cellar workers top up the barrels to make sure they stay completely full. When wine is aged in oak barrels, small amounts of wine escape through evaporation and air gets into the barrels. Topping up ensures the wines maintain their flavour and complexity. Too much oxygen can ruin a good wine.
When the time is right, the wines are filtered to remove any bits and pieces and sediments. This helps to clarify the wines.
Red wines take a little longer than whites, and about now they are fermenting away, about to become the delicious reds you’ve come to know and love.
This is also the time when the craft of blending takes place. Through blending you get to enjoy the finest flavours in unique blends that magically work together to create your favourite wine.
Bottle and Sip
As spring teases us with her inevitable arrival, many of these wines are ready to be bottled. Others need to sit a bit longer in order to achieve the results the winemaker wants.
Then it’s time for us to do our duty. As wine drinkers, our jobs are much easier. All we have to do is swirl, sniff and sip our favourite wine. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.