From Vine to Wine - Dixon Valve by wuyunyi


  VINE to
                         Though variations—and innovations—abound,
                      winemaking today is a remarkably consistent cycle of
                          planting, harvest, fermentation and bottling

               w              INEMAKING IS
               very, very simple,” says John
               Williams, only slightly tongue
               in cheek. “You have to get the
                                                        BY MARY K. ZAJAC

                                                   combination of stainless steel
                                                   and French oak barrel fermenta-
                                                   tion in his pursuit of the perfect
                                                   Chardonnay. He’s even created
                                                                                         place inside a winery. Williams’
                                                                                         focus, he says, is on “grape-
                                                                                         growing rather than winemak-
                                                                                         ing” because he believes wines
               juice out of grapes and ferment     California versions of classic        are made in the delicate rela-
               it into wine.”                      German dessert wines, giving          tionship between the soil and
                    Williams should know. As       them fanciful names like              the climate “rather than the
               owner, founder and winemaker        Frögenbeerenauslese and               hand of the winemaker.”
               at Frog’s Leap Winery, he’s per-    Leapfrögmilch.                            “There is no word for wine-
               fected a clean, crisp Sauvignon         And after 30 years in the         maker in the French language,”
               Blanc, and blended Cabernet         wine business, he’ll be the first     says Williams. Instead, the
               Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc        to tell you that wine is not solely   French use the word vigneron,
               to create Rutherford, a red wine    the work of human hands or            which loosely translates as
               that captures the specific flavor   chemistry or the result of the        “steward of the vineyard.” To
               of this portion of Napa Valley,     crushing and de-stemming,             Williams, this makes perfect
               Calif. He’s experimented with a     fermenting and aging that takes       sense. “You grow wine,” he says.
W W W. D I X O N VA LV E . C O M                                                                     FALL/WI NTE R 2011     BOSS   9
                                     MEG SMITH
 John Williams is founder of
 Frog’s Leap Winery (below) in
 Napa Valley, Calif.; right: the
 Swiss vineyards of La Cote, after
 the harvest.

                                                                 TORI WILDER

                                                                               Today, wine is produced in 62 countries
                                                                               worldwide including some unexpected places
                                                                               like Kazakhstan, Patagonia and Madagascar.
“It’s part of the soil.”                         Old Testament, it has been drank by            countries, primarily in monasteries,
     To say that Williams is a traditional-      royalty and commoner alike, celebrated         where wine was a crucial component of
ist when it comes to winemaking is an            in song and in the Bible, where it is the      the Catholic Mass. (It’s no small coinci-
understatement. It also makes him                subject of Jesus’ first miracle, when he       dence that Champagne was discovered
somewhat of an anomaly in the United             transforms water into wine at the wed-         by a 17th-century French Benedictine
States, where a reliance on winery tech-         ding feast in Cana.                            monk, Dom Perignon.)
nology is more prevalent than in Old                 The first mention of wine appeared             The 19th century saw wine grapes
World Europe.                                    on tablets in Mesopotamia around 2750          planted in both the Northern and
     Williams is not alone in his convic-        B.C. Archaeological digs of the region         Southern hemispheres, across Europe
tions. Despite the rise of Ph.D. pro-            also have yielded evidence of presses          and in places in the New World such as
grams in oenology that stress science,           and vessels. Descriptions of grape har-        Australia, the United States, South
and innovative companies that reduce             vests and recipes for wine, preserved on       Africa and Argentina. It also ushered in
winemaking to abstract formulas, there           clay tablets, were discovered in the           a new era of control in winemaking
are winemakers around the globe who              tombs of ancient Egypt’s elite. Even           after Louis Pasteur discovered the basic
embrace vineyard health over flavor              Noah, the Old Testament reports, tend-         premise of fermentation: namely that
chemistry. It’s all a matter of choices,         ed a vineyard and made wine.                   yeast plus sugar yields alcohol and car-
Williams says. And winemaking in the                 Early travel and trade brought wine-       bon dioxide. Before Pasteur’s findings,
21st century is full of them.                    making to Greece, where the Greeks             winemaking was an unpredictable
                                                 immortalized wine’s cultural signifi-          endeavor, with winemakers relying on
Deep Roots in History                            cance in epic literature such as Homer’s       spontaneous fermentation of ambient
Wine is one of the world’s oldest bever-         “Odyssey.” By the Middle Ages, wine-           yeasts naturally present on grapes and in
ages. Dating back to biblical times in the       making flourished in many European             wineries. Post-Pasteur, the use of cul-
10 BOSS      FALL/WINTER       2011
                                                                                            Controlled Appellation: a
                                                                                            geographic area dedicated to
                                                                                            growing specific varietals of grapes
                                                                                            for wine production, for instance
                                                                                            Chianti or Napa Valley. Appellations
                                                                                            often have rules that govern wine-
                                                                                            making, including how wines can
                                                                                            be labeled or produced.
                                                                                            Lees: the sediment that settles at
                                                                                            the bottom of a fermentation tank
                                                                                            Malolactic: the process in wine-
                                                                                            making where tart-tasting malic acid,
                                                                                            naturally present in grape must, is
                                                                                            converted to softer-tasting lactic acid.
                                                                                            New World: includes winemaking
                                                                                            regions in the United States,
                                                                                            Argentina, Chile, South Africa,
                                                                                            Australia and New Zealand
                                                                                            Non-Vintage: wine that is a blend
                                                                                            of this and other years’ harvests
                                                                                            that is mixed in order to create a
                                                                                            “house” style; a regular practice
tured yeasts became the norm.                  for younger generations have caused          with Champagne and often in
    In the 1860s, however, wine produc-        wine sales to decrease in countries such     mass-produced wines like
tion in Europe nearly ended after the          as France and Italy, although these          Manischewitz
native grapevine species, vinifera, became     countries still rank highly in per capita    Old World: includes winemaking
infected with phylloxera vastatrix. The        wine consumption (following the              regions in Europe such as Italy,
root louse was brought over from               Vatican City State and Luxembourg),          France, Spain, Portugal, Germany
America on cuttings from native labrusca       averaging 45 liters (nearly 12 gallons)      and Austria
grapevines. The solution, it turned out,       per person per year.                         Racking: the separation of wine from
was related to the cause: Scientists discov-       The U.S., however, has seen a sea        sediment after fermentation and
ered that grafting vinifera vines onto the     change in wine consumption and               during aging
resistant labrusca rootstock would make        production since the 1960s and ’70s.         Tannin: a kind of natural compound
vinifera resistant, too.                       According to the Wine Institute, in 1965     that is often created from the
    Today, wine is produced in 62              Americans consumed .98 gallons of            fermentation of different parts of the
countries worldwide including some             wine per resident (3.7 liters), much of it   grape; tannins act as a preservative
unexpected places like Kazakhstan,             inexpensive pink table wines made by         in addition to providing color,
Patagonia and Madagascar. The United           Lancers or Mateus, Chianti in straw-         enhanced taste and body
States, with wineries in all 50 states,        covered bottles or mass-produced rendi-      Terroir: a combination of soil,
ranks fourth in world wine production          tions of Hearty Burgundy or Chablis that     climate, weather and topographic
behind France, Italy and Spain.                bore no resemblance to their European        conditions that affect the flavor and
Argentina ranks fifth.                         namesakes. By 2010, buoyed by the            character of wine
    With the expansion in production,          growth and the quality of domestic wines,    Varietal: the variety of grape,
it makes sense that worldwide wine             along with an ever-expanding selection       Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay
consumption has changed as well,               of imported wines and reports linking        for example
though not necessarily in the most             red wine with heart health, Americans        Vintage: the year in which the grapes
expected ways. Economic downturn,              had more than doubled their wine             are picked (harvested) and made
tougher legislation to control drunk           consumption to 2.6 gallons (9.8 liters).     into wine
driving and changing cultural norms                In 2009, the U.S. outranked France
W W W. D I X O N VA LV E . C O M                                                            FALL/WINTE R      2011        BOSS   11
                                                                                                                                          JOCELYN AUGUSTINO/FEMA
for the first time ever in overall wine      of planting, harvest, fermentation           cover crops such as oats, mustard and
consumption, with Americans buying           and bottling.                                purple vetch to balance nutrients and
329.7 million cases of wine in 2009. The         The first step in winemaking is          help retain moisture in the soil. These
best-selling wine in America is not          choosing the right site.                     crops must be cared for like any other,
homegrown, however. Australia’s Yellow            “A [vineyard] site should have          and are as much a part of vineyard cul-
Tail brand is currently America’s favorite   potential,” says David Adelsheim, owner      tivation as the grapes.
with 8.3 million case sales in 2010.         and founder of Adelsheim Vineyard in             Because of Napa Valley’s microcli-
                                             Oregon’s Willamette Valley. “If you          mate, Frog’s Leap also practices dry
                                             make a bad decision when planting,           farming, where grapes get water only by
                                             you’re never going to be able to correct     rainfall (i.e., without irrigation). Grapes
                                             it with what you do in winery. … If the      thrive on moderate “stress,” says Williams,
                                             site is very good, you should be able to     and dry farming not only encourages
                                             make very good wine from it.”                healthier grapevine roots to dig deep into
                                                 In choosing a site, winemakers must      the soil for better flavor, it also saves the
                                             consider topography, soil components,        winery 10 million gallons a year, or
                                             drainage, average temperatures and the       64,000 gallons of water per acre.
                                             amount of sunshine and rain expected.            Vineyard maintenance at Frog’s Leap
                                             These factors lead directly into step two:   begins in January with the pruning of
                                             choosing the grapes that best suit the       the vines. “Pruning is the most impor-
                                             soil and climate.                            tant thing to do in the vineyard,” says
                                                 In cool climate areas with fewer days    Williams. “It balances the crop,” he
                                             of sunshine and lower temperatures,          explains, and prevents small vines from
                                             like Burgundy and the Loire Valley in        carrying too many and too heavy grape
Yellow Tail wine is currently America’s      France or the North Island and South         clusters. Early spring sees the turning
best-selling brand.                          Island of New Zealand, delicate Pinot        over of cover crops and planting of any
                                             Noir and crisp Sauvignon Blanc flour-        new vines or rootstock. Later, vineyard
Down to Earth                                ish. Warmer climates, like California        workers tie branches onto trellises and
As in any industry, wineries offer a         and Argentina, where aggressive              remove young shoots to control growth
range of products. Mass-produced             ripeness can lead to high sugar and          in a process called desuckering.
brand wines like Yellow Tail are made in     alcohol levels, have found success with          Pollination occurs in May and June
large quantities; they are fruity, smooth,   heartier grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon      and by midsummer, it’s time for a green
easy to drink and offer a reliable prod-     and Malbec.                                  harvest, where vines are thinned of both
uct at reasonable prices. Most fine              In Europe, most premium vineyard         grape bunches and leaves, so that fewer
wines, on the other hand, are designed       sites are part of a system of controlled     grapes may receive more nutrients and
to be expressions of terroir (loosely        appellations (France’s appellation d’orig-   light exposure. Throughout the season,
translated to “a sense of place”), a con-    ine controlee, for example) that govern      the vineyard must be weeded and treat-
cept that addresses the interplay of         what can be grown on certain sites and       ed for mildew.
grape, soil, topography and weather for      how it can be labeled. For example, for          Harvest usually takes place in
each particular vineyard site. The idea is   French red wine to be labeled “bur-          September or October, depending on
that the land from which grapes are          gundy” it must be made from Pinot            the season’s weather and the grapes’
grown imparts a quality that is unique       Noir grown in the Burgundy region.           ripening. At Frog’s Leap, as at many
to the particular region.                        Once vines are planted, vineyard         other small wineries, harvest is done by
    This is one of the reasons for the       maintenance becomes crucial, whether         hand, with workers picking grape clus-
differences in taste of wines made from      you’re in Italy or Oregon. “There’s no       ters over a series of days. It is tedious,
the same varietal but in different parts     winemaker in our portfolio who thinks        back-breaking work, but results in a
of the world. Fine wines vary from vin-      they make wine in their cellar,” says        more careful handling of the grapes,
tage to vintage due to annual weather        Deena Miskiel of Vias Imports, an            something that David Adelsheim stress-
variation, but each vintage should still     importer of Italian fine wines. “It’s 100    es should continue throughout the
reflect the essence of a given varietal—     percent all about the vineyard.”             winemaking process.
say the crisp grapefruit flavors of              Within the world of viticulture,             Gentle winemaking, says the founder
Sauvignon Blanc or the peppery tannins       however, winemakers still utilize differ-    of Adelsheim Vineyard, relies on minimal
of Cabernet Sauvignon. Fine wines are        ent approaches. Frog’s Leap Winery is        handling of the grapes. “The more times
generally more expensive because they        farmed organically, one of the most          you have to move the wine, the more
are made in smaller quantities and           important tools in the tool belt, says       aggressively you move it, the more is
require more vineyard management.            John Williams. Organic farming               taken away from the wine,” he explains,
    But no matter the site, winemaking       eschews the use of commercial pesti-         and the more tannic it can become.
itself is a remarkably consistent cycle      cides or fertilizers and instead uses            Adelsheim makes Pinot Noir, a wine
12 BOSS     FALL/WINTER       2011
                                   1                         2                                       3                                4

                                   5                         6                                       7                                8
The winemaking process: 1) Hand-picked grapes. 2) Grapes being poured into a de-stemmer/crusher. 3) A stainless steel auger crushes
grapes and removes stems. 4) Grapes being pressed. 5) Crushed grapes being pumped into fermenter. 6) Solution made of dry yeast
and water ready to be pumped into a large stainless steel tank containing fermenting wine. 7) Monitoring the fermentation process.
8) The bottling line.

in which tannin is crucial for color and     experience. In Oregon’s Willamette           pumps and hoses (or sometimes via
longevity. At the same time, elegant         Valley, Pinot Noir grapes are put into       vertical feed from an overhead
Pinot Noir requires that tannins be bal-     five-gallon buckets or flat bins (some       de-stemmer).
anced, yielding silkiness rather than bit-   bins can hold up to a half ton of grapes),       The largest stainless steel fer-
terness. Adelsheim explains that his         before the fruit is transferred into the     menters can sit nearly 10 feet above
vineyard tries to balance the tannins in     winery.                                      the winery floor. At this stage, wine-
its wine by “adding a bit of water stress        The fruit is then sorted either by       makers will add sulfur dioxide, yeast
in vineyard rather than by having tech-      hand or by a series of conveyors and         and sulfites, the latter to prevent the
nology that grinds up the grapes. There’s    blowers to remove unripe or diseased         wine from oxidizing and to better
less chance of making a mistake and          fruit—and even bugs—before being             control the fermentation process.
getting a wine that’s too tannic.”           transferred to a de-stemmer—a perfo-             The wine begins to ferment at
                                             rated drum that allows the berries           around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 C),
The Wonders of the Winery                    to pass through and the stems to             and the temperature naturally slowly
The winemaking process itself is a com-      remain. Grapes are then moved to the         rises as fermentation continues.
bination of simple chemistry, art and        fermenter via a series of conveyors,         Fermentation times vary, but the
W W W. D I X O N VA LV E . C O M                                                              FALL/WINTER      2011       BOSS   13
A row of four huge cylindrical stainless steel wine containers at a winery in Napa, Calif.; wine tasting in a winery cellar.

process is usually completed in two           to be filled, corked with a vacuum seal,      inexpensive wine, boxed wines are now
weeks, after which the berries are            topped with a foil capsule, and labeled,      moving into the quality wine market,
pressed. Pressing can take place in basic     before being hand-packed into cases           changing the ways wine drinkers pur-
basket presses, set up so that juice can      and shipped off.                              chase in volume and freshness.
run through perforations while the                                                               In 2008, Matthew Cain began
solids stay behind; or wine can be            Uncorking a Debate                            selling Malbec from Argentina in 1-liter
pumped into tank presses (shaped like         While general winemaking procedures           Tetrapaks under the Yellow + Blue label.
hot dogs) that use an inflatable bladder      have remained fairly consistent in the        “We were looking for a way to deliver
to press the juice through the solids.        last century, change has still made its       high-quality, certified organic or certi-
    Once pressed, the wine is pumped to       way into wineries. One of the most visi-      fied sustainable wine for under $12,”
stainless steel tanks or to oak barrels to    ble innovations: the introduction of          says Cain.
age. Oak softens the wine’s tannins, and      screw cap closures. Mostly confined to             Response has been very positive,
each variety of oak—French, Slovenian,        New World wine producers, screw caps          Cain reports. “There’s a huge shift in
American—imparts a different effect to        are slowly making their way into Old          the mindset of the younger wine con-
the wine. Barrels hold 60 gallons of wine     World wineries and are being embraced         sumer as opposed to what one thinks
(227 liters), the equivalent of 25 cases or   by most consumers. There are a few            of as the traditional wine consumer
300 bottles. Oregon Pinot Noirs typically     exceptions, however.                          [baby boomers and older]. The younger
spend at least 11 months in barrel, with          “The New York Italian [restaurant]        the person, the more apt they are to
higher quality wines spending as much         market has to have a cork,” according         embrace this ‘new world order’ of wine.
as 20 months or more. During this time,       to Miskiel, national sales manager for        They don’t care if the wine comes from
the wine may be “racked” (moved from          Vias Imports. “They can’t put their           Bordeaux in a glass bottle with a cork
one barrel to another, through gravity or     mind around red wine in a screw cap.”         [or in a Tetrapak].”
pump) in order to accelerate aging, sepa-         The success of screw caps is also              The bottom line for most con-
rate the wine from its “lees” (deposits of    confined to inexpensive wines in the          sumers, of course, is how a wine tastes
residual yeast and other participates),       $10 to $20 price range, due in part to        in the glass and the degree of quality
and to help blow off unpleasant smelling      the fact that they don’t need to age and      in regard to the price paid for it. But
sulfides. After it is aged, wine may be
                                              Long confined to mass-produced, inexpensive wine,
“fined”—that is, strained to remove
impurities, through use of common
                                              boxed wines are now moving into the quality wine
ingredients like egg whites, gelatin or       market, changing the ways wine drinkers purchase
even milk, at the proportion of an ounce      in volume and freshness.
or two per 1,000 gallons.                     partly to consumer attitudes toward           John Williams wants wine drinkers to
    The final process is bottling. Some       price/quality ratio. “The consumer still      remember something else as well. Wine
wineries own their own bottling line;         expects that if a wine is expensive and       is “more than just a beverage, more
others schedule appointments with             if wine is meant to age, it is supposed       than something to drink with dinner,”
mobile bottling units. First, bottles are     to have a cork,” reports Miskiel.             he says. “Wine is the story of the prop-
“sparged” with inert gas like nitrogen to         Alternative packaging also is making      erty and the people who created it,” he
prevent the excess buildup of oxygen.         headway into the fine wine market.            explains—a story that is re-told with
Then the bottles pass assembly line style     Long confined to mass-produced,               each bottle.
14 BOSS      FALL/WINTER       2011

   Wine by the Numbers
    I In 2009, 62 countries produced wine.        I Spain leads the world in acreage
    I The Vatican City State and Luxembourg         dedicated to vineyards with 2,724,700
      lead the world in wine consumed per           acres—15.2 percent of acreage
      capita at 70.22 (18.5 gallons) and            worldwide.
      54.29 liters (14.3 gallons) per capita,     I In 2010, Americans’ wine consumption

      respectively.                                 was 2.6 gallons (9.8 liters) per capita.
    I The United States leads the world           I The United States boasts 7,626

      in overall wine consumption, with             wineries with wineries in all 50 states.
      Americans purchasing nearly 330             I California is responsible for 90 percent

      million cases of wine in 2009.                of total U.S. wine production.
    I France leads the world in wine produc-      I In 2007, the United States had 934,750

      tion with 4.7 million liters (1.2 million     acres devoted to wine grapes—yield-
      gallons)—17.56 percent of all the liters      ing $11.4 billion in winery sales.
      produced worldwide.

                                                                Autumn in the vineyards of the French Alps

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