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How Wine is Made

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The Wine Grape Harvest
How Wine is Made

Wine Grape Harvest Scene at Artesa Winery in Napa

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The vineyards are a critical determinant in the end product wines for each and every vintage. Vineyards are like the wine's bassinets, where early grapelife begins and flourishes, for all wine is truly birthed on the vine. The vineyard's location, climate, terrain, soils, vines and rootstocks, irrigation systems and pest management controls all factor into the final product in one way or another. Sun exposure and time on the vine both play a key role in the grape's development and specific sugar levels.

Winemaking commences with the annual grape harvest and can be accomplished by either mechanical harvesting equipment (usually easiest for vineyards that lie on relatively flat land) or hand harvesting. Hand-harvesting affords more precise selection and often does a better job of protecting the grape’s juice content from oxidation due to damaged skins. Mechanical harvesters offer a more efficient, often cost-effective, process and are well-suited for large vineyards that lay on a flat patch of earth. The type of harvest - hand-picking, mechanical harvesters or a combination of the two, is largely influenced by the winemaker’s final wine style goals as well as budget.

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