Winter time! The whole year has been looking forward to grape picking and now the fruit is bubbling and bubbling in the wine cellar. The vineyard is slowly falling asleep and will wake up again in 2023. Meanwhile, the Austrian winemakers have plenty of work to do on the new wine and with (Christmas) orders. We follow them closely! - TEXT EDITORS | IMAGE AUSTRIAN WINE / ROBERT HERBST
A year in the life of a winemaker
Living with the vines | Episode 4: winter
The harvest is over. Only the grapes for the fantastic Austrian Eiswein linger for a while, until it starts freezing at night. From October, winemakers focus more and more on work in the cellar. The white grapes are either pressed directly into whole bunches, or first stripped of the stems and then pressed. Alcoholic fermentation of the must begins. This can be done by adding yeasts, but it can also happen spontaneously thanks to natural yeasts on the grape. How often the Austrian winemaker intervenes in the winemaking process depends on his or her own vision.
Blue grapes for red wine
The blue grapes undergo their fermentation with skin and all, as this gives red wine its colour and tannins. Every day, the Austrian winemaker pushes back down the skins and pips that float to the top of the fermentation vessel to improve the extraction of the juice. We call this 'pushing the hat down'.
November and December
In November, calm descends over the vineyards. The vines prepare for their dormant winter period and store nutrients for the next growing season. The work of the Austrian winemaker is entirely focused on maturing the wine in the cellar. Because after fermentation is completed in the cellar, the wines are drained and transferred to wooden barrels or stainless steel tanks for further development. The winemaker chooses after how much time this happens and also whether or not the wine undergoes wood maturation. Such wood maturation can give structure and add extra flavours to the wine. Aging on stainless steel, for example, is again very suitable for the fresh style Riesling.
The vintage can very well end with an Eiswein harvest provided it is sufficiently cold in December. It must be -7°C or lower to pick the frozen grapes overnight. Often the temperature does not drop low enough, and this is delayed until January or February.
The Christmas season
With the Christmas period ahead, December's work is mostly about selling and delivering wine.
Want to know more about the different growth stages? Read all at AUSTRIANWINE.COM and/or watch the fantastic videos from 'A year in the life of a winegrower' via YOUTUBE
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