Making Old Walls Wine
The process of making wine starts in the vineyard when the ripe grapes are picked during October. They are then transferred to our Winery where the process of turning the grapes into wine begins.
Whatever the colour or variety of grapes being used, the initial process is the same when the grapes enter the Winery. They are first placed into the ‘de-stalker’ which, as the name suggests, removes the stalks and any other items accidentally collected during picking. It also mashes the grapes in readiness for the next process, which is where red and white wine making differ.
White Wine and Rosé’s
Upon completion of de-stalking and mashing, the mixture is
placed into a press to begin the juice extraction. Gone are
the days of many people stamping their feet in a large tray
full of grapes, juice is extracted under hygienic conditions
using stainless steel and pneumatic. The press extracts as
much juice and flavour from the grapes and a reading is taken
to confirm the sugar content of the pressing. The ‘Wine
Standards Board’ lays down strict regulations on sugar
content of the wine and the resulting alcohol content, which
at Old Walls is 11.5% for our white wines. The juice is then
pumped into one of our large tanks to begin its transformation
into beautiful Old Walls wine.
Making Old Walls Red is a completely different process. After the de-stalking and mashing, the resulting juice, skins and pips are all transferred to one of our large tanks. A twice daily process is now required of ‘knocking back’ the fermenting mixture called a ‘Must’ to ensure maximum taste and colour. After ten days the liquid is drained and the remaining mixture of skins and pips are pressed to extract as much of the fermenting flavour as possible. This is then added to the initial liquid and further fermentation takes place. Only at this stage do we take a sugar reading similar to the ‘white’ to calculate an alcohol content of 12%.
Red, White, Rose fermentation
The process of fermentation takes approximately three weeks and in early December the young wines are transferred once more to remove any sediment that is naturally created by fermentation. This process is called ‘Racking’, after which the wine is left until February when once more it is ‘Racked’ and checked for quality. In March ‘Finning’ of the wine is undertaken, which removes the very fine particles. Without this process the wine would appear cloudy in the bottle and unappealing to the drinker. Finally in April, a full seven months after the grapes were picked the wine is bottled, labelled and laid down in our cellars before being offered for sale.
Sparkling Wine – The ultimate wine making art
To make our Old Walls sparkling wine we start from the fermented white wine and re-ferment with the addition of champagne yeast and sugar. The alcohol content of the finished sparkling wine is 12% and again strict rules are laid down to ensure that this target is met. The young sparkling wine is bottled with temporary caps and placed upside down into racks called ‘Remuage’ or ‘Riddling Racks’. Traditionally made of Oak these racks accommodate the neck of the bottle allowing the ‘Riddler’ to turn the bottle each day to ensure any sediment being formed makes its way into the neck. ‘Riddling’ is an age old tradition of ensuring Sparkling wines and Champagnes are sediment free and is only now being mechanically surpassed by the unromantic sounding ‘Gyropalette’.
Nine months later the secondary fermentation is completed and the tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide produced during this process have now been dissolved into the wine. This gives you the unmistakable ‘fizz’ and bubbles, making sparkling wines and Champagnes so exciting.
Finally, the bottle necks are frozen at
minus 30°c and the caps of the bottles removed. The high
pressure inside the bottle sends the frozen plug, containing
the sediment, speeding out and therefore cleaning the neck.
More wine is used to top-up what has been lost before finally
applying the cork, wire cage and foil cap. The bottles are
once again laid down for a further period before being labelled
If you would like to know more about the wine making process why not come to the Winery and ask for a tour?
You can buy Old Walls wine from the Vineyard or by mail order from here.