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Just as farmers work to ensure balance in the vineyard, the winemaker’s job involves achieving a balanced wine with just the right amount of acidity, sugar, alcohol and tannins. Tannins are chemicals found in grape skins, stems and seeds that create a dry sensation on the palate. Tannins help wines age well but can be bitter if they are unripe or too excessive. Winemakers also make a number of choices involving aging vessels (oak, steel, cement), yeasts and other treatments to achieve a particular style.

As in the vineyard with farmers, nature presents challenges to every winemaker. For example, too much oxygen exposure degrades juice quality—known as “oxidation”—yet controlled oxygen exposure is necessary for fermentation and flavor development. Too little oxygen can produce faulty, “reductive” wines, with compounds that release unpleasant aromas and flavors.

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