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© 2016 Small Business California

Tracey Clayton
Aug 15, 2018

Starting a Winery - A Beginners Guide


Wine-making can be a quite lucrative business if you do it right. It takes dedication, knowledge, and a lot of love to start something like this. Wine producers use different techniques and tools to make their wine taste better, a lot of it depending on the region they are from as well as the ever-changing weather, year in and year out. If you enjoy drinking wine, and you are determined to try your luck with this type of business, listed below is everything you might want to know about starting your own wine production, so make sure you read on.



Let’s start with the harvest

You might think we would start with planting, but if you are entering a wine production business chances are you have bought a vineyard with grown grapevines, otherwise you are in for a long haul. Now, harvesting is the first and one of the most important steps in winemaking. The moment when the grape is picked determines the taste of wine. It’s very important that acidity and sweetness are balanced at the point of harvesting, and this can be achieved by a little bit of science and old-fashioned tasting. In the northern hemisphere, grape harvest takes place usually between August and October while in the southern hemisphere, they’re usually harvested between February and April. Harvesting can be done either mechanically or by hand. Most of the manufacturers decide to do it by hand since the use of machines can be hard both on grapes and vineyards.


On to the crushing

In order to make wine, grapes have to be destemmed and crushed after they are harvested. For years and years, people did this by stomping the grapes themselves. Today, this is done mechanically and the machines turn grapes into the so called “must“. This is basically a freshly pressed grape juice that still contains grape skin, seeds and solids from the grapes. The use of machines for this process brought a huge health safety improvement and made the wine taste even better.



The next step is fermentation

During the winemaking process the must ferments for 6 to 12 hours when aided with wild yeasts which can be found in the air. But there are a lot of winemakers that opt for the use of commercial cultured yeast. They decide on this path because commercial yeast can help create consistency and predict the final result. It is important to keep in mind that the temperature of fermentation directly affects the quality of the wine, this is why it is important for any wine producer to use a quality heat exchanger. The fermentation process can last from 10 days to a month or even a month and a half depending on what you want to achieve.


Finally it is time for clarification

After fermentation ends, the process of clarification starts. During this process all the solids (dead yeast cells, proteins and tannins) are removed from the mix. The produced wine is then placed in different vessels, in most cases these are steel tanks or oak barrels. Once the wine is transferred, it also has to be fined and filtered. This is performed by adding substances that all the unwanted particles tend to adhere to and get forced to the bottom of the barrel or steel tank. Other large particles are removed during filtration. Once both fining and filtration are over, wine is transferred to a different vessel.


It is time to bottle your product

With the initial process of wine-making being done, this is where the manufacturer gets to decide whether they’ll bottle the wine immediately or let it age. Aging can be done in oak barrels, steel tanks, or bottles. Most of the manufacturers who age their wine choose to do it in oak barrels since this gives the wine a much rounder taste. Not only this, but oak barrels also increase wine’s exposure to oxygen during the process of aging, which helps it reach its optimal fruitiness.


The tasting parlor

Starting a winery usually means you need to have a place ready for customers, a tasting room. That way they can come, have a taste of your product and decide on what they want to buy. It could be nicely decorated space where your potential customers can sit, taste different wines and ask questions regarding the production process.

Wine producers usually follow these 6 steps when making wine. However, as mentioned above, a lot of them decide to use different techniques and tools in order to make their wine more unique. No matter how the wine was made, the most exciting part is seeing people enjoying the final product of your labor.

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