Robert Foley, well known and admired as a winemaker, said: “There is an area between art and science that I predict craft, which is what I do. I am looking, I’m tasting, I am smelling, and I am feeling. And the energy of the wine–a great deal of that’s found in the way that it feels on the palate” This guy is respected as one of the greatest winemakers in the United States, and his vineyard is at Napa Valley, a place that’s world renowned for growing a good grape. And, by far and away, nearly all the wine made in the USA comes from the state of California.
This love for wine and the craft of making a really superior classic in the us a has developed over time. Even Thomas Jefferson spent a lot of time hoping to grow varietals from Europe at Monticello, though they didn’t flourish for him in the time. That notwithstanding, he had a very refined palate and was a fantastic wine critic.
But even though Jefferson and others had attempted to make decent wine, the story of its institution in america really started in the 50s. Due to prohibition, followed by the depression and the Second World War, the allowance and ability to experiment, develop different types, and create amounts of wine to market really began after these significant events.
Napa Valley place itself on the map in Paris in 1976 when, at a blind tasting, a white wine and red wine in California arrived in early. . .ahead of French wines! The world recognized that world-class wine can be created in America, also. And while winemakers may vary in precisely the way they do things, here are some general information about wine manufacturing that are applicable across the board:
A good deal of excellent wine growers are more worried about quality, instead of quantity. They will prune most of the fruit off the vine, and repeat this pruning procedure during the growing season so the plant is permitted to focus its efforts on a smaller amount of fruit, making for a top quality yield with amazing flavor.
You will hear wine makers discuss the terroir of a wine, and you may wonder what in the world they’re referring to. Terroir refers to this combination of the specific soil where the grapes are grown, combined with the weather conditions. The idea is that, even if you should grow the specific same varietals and tend the blossoms in the exact same way in another place, the grape won’t taste the same. This is a result of the terroir.
When fruit is heavy on the blossom, it’s a science to understand when it is just the right time to select. Growers will check for glucose, pH, and acidic levels, ensuring that the blossoms are in the range they want them to be for an optimal end product.
There are over 1,000 chemicals in a jar of wine. And many things help determine the taste: tannins, the mixtures of different vintages, the oxidation process, the sort of barrel the wine ages in, etc.. It is in fact a skill to get certain tastes and come off with great tasting wine, year after year.
When wine is aging in A barrel, it will often be racked, a process at which the wine is taken from the barrels then pumped back, rather than always back to the exact same barrel. This procedure allows the wine to be subjected to atmosphere, which is an important part of influencing the taste and texture of the wine.
Making good wine takes expertise and training, and people who do this well have perfected their ability over time. It is a pleasure to tour vineyards and participate in wine tastings to come to understand and appreciate wines from a specific area. We take groups on wine tours to help them get their feet wet with the best our area is known for. If doing a little wine tasting and learning more about vineyards is the kind of fun, call and schedule a trip with us now!
(The data for this post came from this documentary which focuses on wine made in Napa Valley: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nsDXSJpXQck.)