The road from grape to glass is quite a wine-dy road. It requires enormous amounts of time (and therefore patience) as well as human and natural resources. It is understanding this process that makes me extremely respective and overwhelmed to the point that I need to sit down with a glass of wine to calm my excited nerves with this newfound knowledge.
As probably expected, the grape to glass process begins with the grape in the vineyards. Growing the grapes is one of the longest waits. The grapes are planted and through the months the vines are irrigated, pruned, and overall pampered. Wine country grapes honestly have the life. Then traditionally come September and October the grapes are harvested. Different varietals and different clones of varietals mature at scattered times so harvest often lasts a couple of weeks. Grapes are collected not via machine-robot-outsource means, but instead through some good ol’ manual labor. The bushels are then crushed, unfortunately not stomp-style like old Italy, but through presses, which turn the batch into not-quite-ready-for-consumption grape juice. At this point, the winemaker really steps in. Kerry Damskey tastes the wine at various intervals to better understand the identity (alcohol percent, texture, ripeness, etc.) of the grape. The next couple of ladder rungs in the vino-making process highlight the true talents of the winemaker. The fermentation step is traditionally in oak barrels (French, American, Hungarian… only the finest designer wood brand) or stainless steel barrels. Wine then ages and is chemically altered during this process for multiple months.
After the wine is finished fermenting, and the winemaker has approved the palate and blends, the wine is finally bottled. Typically this occurs on giant conveyor belts that include every bit of the bottling process: the wines are filled with the “good stuff,” a little blast of nitrogen, the cork is thrown in with super suction, the foil is wrapped on, labels are delicately placed on the front and back, twelve bottles are put back in the original cardboard case, the case is taped up and labeled and the process is done! Some of these machines can churn out finish product at ridiculous speeds with extremely high quality. If everything then goes according to the game plan, the wine is sold and the consumer enjoys that delicious glass of well-traveled wine.
Palmeri Wines is unique since it uses only high elevation mountain fruit. We therefore lay down our wine for a couple of years after it has been bottled and packaged before we release it. This allows for a second form of aging of the grape to provide a fuller-body flavor with more intense fruit.
So next time you are about to drink that high-class glass of wine (and certainly not that mass produced boxed wine), remember the long arduous road those grapes took to get to your taste buds and how your long arduous trip home that night no longer seems so bad (especially if you are drinking on your porch).