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Vine To Wine

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

In September, we had done a feature on the stages of grape-growing – Nine Hills Vineyard Cycle. With this feature, we take you on the journey of the grapes from being harvested to when it’s ready to be sipped as wine – the Vine to Wine journey.

  • Ripening & Plucking of Grapes:
    • When the grapes are ripe enough and reach the right brix level, our winemaker plucks a handful to find out if they taste just right, chews the seeds and measures the sugar content. Once satisfied that the time has come, he gets his team of vineyard workers to harvest the grapes.
    • As they set out to harvest their produce, vineyard workers aim to do it in the shortest possible time, early in the morning.
    • They collect all the grapes in large crates which are then rushed to the winery for crushing

  • Crushing of Grapes: No, in wineries, they do not crush the grapes with their feet. It is considered unhygienic — They use pneumatic presses. Red wines are produced by de-stemming and crushing the grapes into a tank and leaving the skins in contact with the juice throughout the fermentation. Most white wines are processed without de-stemming or crushing and are transferred from picking bins directly to the press.
  • Fermentation: The juice, skins, and seeds (not for white wines) are poured then into stainless steel fermenting tanks. Special wine, cultured yeast is added at this stage to this grape juice. Fermentation begins when the yeast begins to feed on the sugars present in the grape juice. Carbon dioxide and alcohol are by-products of this process.
  • Aging: Once the grape juice has fermented into wine, the wine is poured into barrels/tanks for aging. During the aging process, the wines change tanks/barrels several times in order to remove solids from the bottom of the tanks.
  • Bottling: When our winemaker is satisfied that the wine is now ready to move from the barrels/tanks, they are bottled where the wine will stay and continue to age. Once the wine in the bottle is ready, it is then shipped and sipped by you and me!!!

Destination Vineyards

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Rolling hills. Château. Stylish villas. Gourmet delights. Divine wines. Romantic walks. Holidays in wine countries give you all this and more. So which are the best? Let’s take a whirlwind tour of the best vineyards around the world…

  • Bordeaux, France: How can Bordeaux not top the list? It is the most important wine producing region in France and in the world. They have about 7000 chateaux there!!! Imagine that. Near the Atlantic Coast, the wines that take the prize are the reds — Staint Emilion , Medoc, Margaux.

  • Napa Valley, California: Napa Valley has long been synonymous with superb wine and striking scenery, making it one of the most popular wine destinations in the world. Home to nearly 400 unique wineries, the valley is situated north of the San Francisco Bay area and enjoys a Mediterranean climate. The top wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel.

  • Tuscany, Italy: Off the Mediterranean Sea coast, this region of Italy has everything that dreams are made of. Reds like Chianti and Montalcino have attained iconic status in Tuscany.

  • Stellenbosch, South Africa: Home to one of South Africa’s most visited wine routes, Stellenbosch is located east of Cape Town, with more than 100 wine cellars to visit. The region produces high-quality wines, mostly reds — Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, Pinotage and Shiraz. Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the prominent whites.

  • Barossa Valley, South Australia: This scenic region is highly regarded for its Shiraz and its other robust varieties of red wine. Characterized by its visibly rich German heritage, along with its rolling, vine-covered hills, Barossa Valley is a beautiful destination for sightseers and wine connoisseurs alike.

So where are you headed now?

Nine Hills Vineyard Cycle

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Rains in Mumbai can make you feel that, “God has opened the water tap and forgotten to close it…..” With hardly any sun for almost three whole months (June, July and August), one then wonders how are the vines faring in the Nashik Hills. This fear was immediately put to rest by our experts at the vineyards who said that regular monsoon has no adverse impact on viticulture. Instead, the water is absolutely necessary for a good growth. What really troubles the viticulturists is lack of rainfall or erratic rains due to shift in climatic patterns, but we will talk about global warming and its fallout on grape-growing in a later issue…..

In this issue, let’s peek over the fence of the Nine Hills vineyards and find out what do the farm hands do all year round to get the best grapes for the wines…

Come September and in the third week, it will be time for the vines to shed their ‘excess baggage’ and go in for a good ‘trim’, nay prune. In a matter of just 7-8 days, green shoots start appearing on the stems so pruned. In viticulture parlance, this is called ‘Sprouting’, as seen in the picture…

By the 3rd-4th week of October, the vines start flowering heralding the coming of berries by the first week of November.

These grow over the next few weeks and by end December, the berries start ripening. Berry ripening starts with color break (in color grapes varieties) and softening of berries. As it grows further sugar starts accumulating in berries and acid starts degrading. This stage of initiation of ripening is termed as Veraison.

Finally, by end January, the grapes have ripened enough and are ‘mature’ enough to be plucked. Feb-March is the time when the grapes are plucked, stomped and handed over to the winery for the final journey.

Thus concludes the growth-cycle. Cheers.