Winemaking isn’t a highly-complex process in itself. However, as with so many other things, when the intention is to produce a top-quality product, it is vital that you carefully invest both time and effort. At Ramot Naftaly Winery, we believe that in order to produce quality wine, it is important to invest time and effort into nurturing and loving each and every one of the various winemaking stages, starting with the grapes in the vineyard and passing through the aging process to the final bottling of the wine.
The Vineyard Terroir
Up until recently, many assumed that the main factor that had a major impact on wine production was the soil’s fertility. Soils that had high fertility levels meant that the grapevine required less effort to obtain nutrients, which in turn produced a lower quality wine than those grapevines that had to work harder. Today more emphasis is placed on the climate conditions of the growing area, with temperature being considered the main factor. The temperature is what initializes the hibernation process and it is what causes it to stop. In addition, it is what causes the differences between growing areas.
Treating the Vineyard
Controlling the grapevine’s growth is a combination of correct pruning and the arranging the leaves on the tendrils. Arranging the tendrils on the grapevine is important from two aspects: exposing the leaves to the sun and exposing the fruit to light and air. It is important that all the leafage is exposed to the sun, and not shaded, in order for the photosynthesis and sugar creation process to take full effect.
Day of Harvest
From the moment the grapes ripen, the vigneron can harvest the grapes. The decision to harvest is based on the concentration of sugar (Brix), acid (TA) and pH. The harvesting can be done using two methods: manual harvesting or mechanical harvesting. A mechanical vine harvester involves a financial investment, yet it does have its share of advantages: it has a high-capacity level, vineyard flexibility and of course, the fact that a night harvest is possible.
For many years, wood had a primary role in winemaking processes due to its ability to contribute and affect the wine’s color, texture, flavor and tannic profile. In most cases, wood was used for barrel-aging. Today, using wood chips or sticks is a more prevalent method, due to the cost-saving involved. The wooden barrel has an additional importance, as it performs evaporation and minimizes exposure to oxygen.
There are many types of fermentation tanks. In fact, any sealed and hermetic container can serve as a fermentation tank (in the Carmel Mizrachi Wineries for example, there are concrete fermentation rooms that have been in use since the British Mandate). The differences between the tanks are in the control the winemaker has over the fermenting, mixing and cleaning process.
Malolactic fermentation can occur naturally (spontaneously) or artificially. In most cases, winemakers will wait to see if the fermentation happens naturally, and if not, will add bacteria to start the process. In addition, the duration of this process is unpredictable, and can take quite a long time. The process is considered to be a critical process for winemakers, which is why we add special bacteria to the wine, ensuring malolactic fermentation commences.
Bottling, Labeling and Market Realease
“Bottle Shock” is a reaction that occurs in a wine immediately after bottling, as a result of compressing oxygen during the corking. The reaction does not oxidize the wine, but actually helps it mature over time. The reaction is characterized by the muting or closing of fruit flavors in the wine (closed wine) and causes the wine to be “flat” in both flavor and aroma. This state is temporary and passes after a short period of aging (a few weeks) when it becomes balanced once again.