Wine Cellar Chronicles: Racking Wine

Just in time for the holidays, the last of Unionville Vineyards’ 2014 red wine has gone through the final racking process! It is amazing to see the grape’s lifecycle.  First, the beautiful fruit comes in hand-picked off the vine. Next, it is mashed and goes through primary fermentation. Now you have fermenting grape juice, with skins and seeds, or what is known as grape must. After this, we begin to rack the wine, using a pump to move the wine from container to container. This could be barrel to tank, tank to tank, or tank to barrel. While fermenting, the sugars are reduced, alcohol starts to form, and the juice starts to acquire the characteristics of a young wine.  During this process,dead yeast and remaining grape skins settle to the bottom of the container. It is essential that this gunk, referred to as lees, is removed in order to clarify the wine.
Now that the wine is clarified and in barrel, it will begin to go through secondary fermentation, a process where lactic acid forms from malic acid, which naturally occurs in the grape must. During malolactic fermentation, these tart characteristics are softened and rounded out - enhancing the wine’s flavor profile and body. The wine will sit in the barrel for a year and a half before the next stage of the winemaking process begins.

Did you know, that while the wine is in barrel the winemakers are still tinkering with it? Evaporation and fermentation can take unexpected twists and turns, and it is crucial to keep a watchful eye. Stay tuned to learn the Winemaker’s Steps to Happy and Healthy Yeast.

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