If you’re wondering how wine is made, consider this. Winemaking starts in the vineyard and continues in the cellar, running through a yearly lifecycle full of activity every month to ensure that the best grapes are produced and the best wines are made. Wineries never stand still! Let’s look at how wine is made month by month.
The winter months: the field from December to February
When the vines are sleeping, it doesn’t mean that people in the winery don’t have plenty of work to do! Like the winter garden, the winter vineyard needs to be pruned, keeping a limited number of buds on each plant.
When we need to plant new vines, March is the time to do it, when the ground is soft enough and weather conditions are ideal to support new growth. At this time, we also train the vines to the support, a manual job that is carried out plant by plant, by hand.
That moment of “bud bloom” is one of the most exciting moments of the year! When the dormant vines, from one day to the next, put forth the first bit of life that will become a leaf. New buds are trimmed to ensure good growth, while frost protection measures are taken – that’s of course the biggest risk at this time of year, when weather could suddenly return to being wintery.
With spring rains, the new buds and leaves are susceptible to fungal diseases, so the field team has to keep a careful eye on the vines and treat them with non-chemical substances to keep diseases under control. This is one of the greatest challenges in an organic winery such as ours.
In June, we clean up the growing vines by trellising them and helping them spread out to maximize exposure to the sun. Each country and company uses a different trellising system; here at Dievole we use cordon and guyot systems.
The continued battle against things that could attack the vine evolves in later summer, when, in June and July, we have to work on insect control. In an organic winery, this is done with natural methods, and when a vine is healthy and well balanced, there is enough appealing nutrients on the ground that insects are not so attracted to the leaves and fruits.
In August, we always look forward to the moment of verasion, when the hard, green berries turn into full grapes, and the red grapes actually become their characteristic shade. Meanwhile, maintenance continues to encourage only the best grapes to make it to the press.
September and October
Finally, in September, the harvest begins! In our area of Tuscany, this usually is around the middle of the month. We begin by harvesting the white grapes, while the most important red sangiovese grapes that go into our reserve Chianti Classicos are amongst the last to be picked.
October and November
The picked grapes have gone into the cellar and for the first two weeks or so, they undergo the first fermentation, turning sugar into alcohol. The cellar team works around the clock to monitor the process and make sure the wine in progress is properly oxygenated. Later in October and November, the wine is transfered into holding tanks, where it will sit to age.
Only in December we can finally rest a bit!
How wine is made infographic
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