Farmers. Chemists. Rock stars. Winemakers are a compilation of characteristics from many professions. On the one hand, winemaking is pure science, but on the other, the artistry of experimentation and expert blending is what makes for an amazing wine. Our members of the Paso Robles Wine Club experience signature wines from over 200 wineries and winemakers, from the big producers to the boutique winemakers. If you’ve ever wondered what winemakers do to get the grapes from the vine to the bottle, read on to learn more:
Hitting the Books: Becoming a winemaker involves more than just having a love of wine and an interest in how it’s made. Training includes studying both Enology (the science of wine and winemaking) and Viticulture (cultivation of grapes). A keen understanding of chemistry, microbiology, enzymes and yeasts is a winemaker’s foundation. Equally important is knowledge of grape maturation, harvesting, fermenting, bottling, blending and filtration. Finally, a good winemaker has a ‘nose’ for wine and a well-trained palate.
Working the Cycle: Winemakers are busy year round, but the two busiest times of the year for a winemaker are in the spring when the vineyard begins anew, and in the fall when it’s time to Harvest the grapes and make the wine. Winemakers are always watching over their barrels and tanks, but they’re also responsible for looking after the vineyards, surveying the growing of the grapes, managing growth, directing the pruning of the vines and even keeping pests away.
During Harvest—which can extend for 12 weeks or even longer—winemakers work 16 to 18 hour days, 7 days a week to get the grapes from the vines and into tanks or barrels.
Orchestrating the Magic: Once the call goes out through the vineyard that it’s time to pick the grapes, the winemaker must manage multiple processes, people and personalities in a timely and organized process. Much like the maestro directing an orchestra, the winemaker needs to ensure that everyone is doing their job effectively, all while overseeing the heavy machinery need to process the grapes, both in the vineyard and inside the production facility.
Before the winemaker can even begin to play with the alchemy of the grapes, he/she must plan the logistics of where the incoming fruit will go, the placement and duties of the cellar crew and the processing schedule.
Artistry and Alchemy: In lore, alchemists had the power to transmute base metals into gold. Additionally, they were beholden with the powers to create an elixir of life that could give anyone who sipped it endless youth and beauty. In some respects, the winemaker’s craft is similar; taking the humble grape, an agricultural product, and transforming it into something of remarkable beauty and taste, requires both alchemy and artistry. Wine couldn’t be made without a deep understanding of chemistry, but good wine can’t exist without passion.
Many wine growing regions require winemakers to follow strict guidelines and produce wines that define a geographical location. Not so when it comes to winemakers in the Paso Robles AVA who have more freedom to approach the grapes with artistry, experimentation and talent to create an exceptional wine. Ready to try a few of these award winning local wines for yourself? Membership in The Paso Robles Wine Club will give you the opportunity to taste these wines for yourself. Or, book a tour with The Wine Wrangler and visit the amazing winemakers of the Paso Robles AVA.