A bottle of wine is the elegant result of a very laborious, time-consuming and sometimes messy process, especially during the Fall Crush (mid-September through October).
There are four main steps to producing wine:
1) Harvest the fruit at its peak.
2) Ferment the grapes into wine.
3) Clarify and stabilize the wine.
4) Allow for the aging process.
The only real difference between red, white, and rosé wines is the amount of time the skins are allowed to stay in contact with the juice.
When crushed, red-wine grapes have a colorless juice, just like white-wine grapes. However, red wine is made by letting the grape skins (which do have color) stay in contact with the juice for the right length of time. The juice, skins and seeds are fermented for a few days in stainless steel tanks. Then, the juice and skins are separated. The Edgefield winemaker "clarifies" this juice through fining, racking and filtering. Stabilization takes place by removing any excess proteins and other elements. Then our wine is aged in wooden barrels. It's this barrel aging, while the wine is susceptible to oxidation, that develops the wine's bouquet and flavors. Once it's bottled, some red wines -- though they are no longer exposed to oxygen -- continue to improve with age.
After the grapes are crushed, the juice is more rapidly separated from the skins and seeds than with red wine. That juice is cooled and settles for decanting and fermentation in stainless steel tanks. From that point forward, the white wine-making process is similar to that of red wines. Some white wines, such as Chardonnay, are fermented in oak barrels to give the wine oaky flavors. However, white wines do not require as much aging as most exceptional reds; it is acceptable, even preferable, to drink many whites "young."
Sparkling wines are produced much like white wines. However, after fermentation the wine is bottled a little differently. Sugar water and more yeast are added and the bottles are capped with an airtight seal (in our case, a McMenamins beer cap!). Finer vintage selections are typically stored for three to five years while the bready character of the yeast is incorporated into the wine's flavor and aroma. When this "bottle fermentation" and aging is complete, the famous (French) methode Champenoise is used to finish the wine. Then, bottles are corked with traditional champagne corks and wire cages.