steps for wine making
after you take your juice home
Above is a slide show of most of the steps we go through to make the grapes into fermented juice. It starts with the orders which arrive in September through November.
The first step is crushing the grapes and putting them in bins. Careful measurements of sugar, acids and other characteristics are taken. The alcohol content is calibrated and the "must," (the fermenting grapes in the bins) is ready to be pressed in about a week.
The must is poured into hydraulic presses that still use a lot of old fashioned muscle to press the juice down into "cake." There is nothing more gorgeous than that first run of juice out of the press...intense color, flavor and smell!
The juice is then mixed in the big tanks and distributed into the individual members carboys—large, 5 gallon glass or plastic containers. It goes home with the member at this time.
Once members take home their juice, it will need to be "racked" or poured from one carboy into another to clear the wine. "Racking" is the process where the juice sits for several months in the carboy to let the solids from the grapes settle to the bottom. Then the juice is transferred from one carboy to another, leaving the solids in the bottom, which are discarded.
After about 12 months and 2-4 rackings, the wine is ready to be corked and bottled.
Racking the wine from one carboy to another (left) and carboys to be racked or bottled, (right).
racking your wine
Chattanooga Wine Club (CWC) has several American white oak barrels that we use to age member's wine in Building One which is conditioned. Many members like this, not only for the taste it imparts, but eliminates having to rack your carboys as the sediment settles in the barrel during the year. We usually store the wine in our barrels for one year and distribute it in September before the grapes arrive.