The different stages of winemaking

Published : 2024-04-02
The different stages of winemaking


From the vine to the bottle, there are numerous steps involved in making the wine that you will enjoy in your glass.

Discover below the main stages of production...


Every year, the vine develops according to the seasons, following a vegetative cycle that unfolds in several stages:

Winter :

From November to February, the vine enters a period of dormancy, known as "dormancy". The sap stops circulating within the plant. This is the ideal time for pruning. We cut the canes and determine, based on their position, which buds will produce the shoots and fruit for the following year.

Spring :

In March and April, it's the "bud break" phase: the buds begin to grow. This is the period of branch and leaf growth. The vine wakes up and the sap starts circulating in the plant again. In May and June, the flowering begins with the appearance of tiny flowers that often go unnoticed by passersby.

Summer :

In July, the foliage continues to develop and the flowers turn into grape berries. In August, the "véraison" starts: the grapes swell and ripen. They gradually change color, become richer in sugars, and are imbued with aromas. This is a critical period for winemakers as it's essential to determine the start date of the harvest: neither too early nor too late!

Autumn :

In September and October, it's the peak of the harvest season! Harvesters walk the rows, secateurs in hand, to collect the finest clusters. In case of severe weather forecast and if the appellation allows, we may use a harvesting machine to gather the grapes faster and avoid losing the crop.


Table grapes :

Intended to be eaten as is, table grapes are appreciated for their firm and crunchy berries, juicy and aromatic flesh. White Chasselas and Red Muscat of Hamburg are among the most well-known varieties. These are different from the varieties used for making wine.

Grape juice :

With its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and being rich in quick sugars, vitamins, and trace elements, grape juice is a popular beverage among both children and adults.

Wine :

Wine is obtained by fermenting fresh grapes, crushed or not. Through the action of yeasts (native or added), the sugar in the grapes is converted into alcohol. The entire transformation process is called "vinification".



The process that transforms grapes into wine is called vinification. It takes about 1.3 to 1.5 kg of grapes to produce a liter of wine. The essential steps of vinification are: destemming, pressing, maceration, and fermentation. Their sequence varies depending on the type of wine being made. The variety of grape used also conditions the type of wine produced.

Alcoholic fermentation :

the main phase of vinification, alcoholic fermentation is a natural phenomenon during which the sugars in the grapes turn into alcohol under the action of yeasts. Vinification is a delicate operation whose successful outcome depends on the winemaker's and oenologist's expertise.

White & Red Wine :

red wines are made from red grapes, while white wines can be produced from both white and red grapes. It's the contact time between the colored skin and the white pulp that will impart more or less color to the wine. Rosé wine, made from red grapes, can be obtained in two ways: like red wine with a very short maceration before pressing (saignée rosé) or using the technique for white wine (pressed rosé). Depending on regional specifics, there are different operational modes within these general vinification processes.

Ageing :

Once vinification is complete, the wine can either be bottled directly or placed in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels for a variable aging period. Oak ageing is used to develop complex aromas that will flourish over time.

Red Wine Vinification


Red grapes are crushed to burst the berries. This operation helps to release the pulp and juice of the grape, called must.


The crushed harvest is then destemmed. The rachis, the woody part of the cluster, is eliminated and separated from the grape berries, as it could impart herbaceous flavors to the wine.

Maceration and Fermentation

The crushed and destemmed harvest is directed to fermentation tanks. Alcoholic fermentation is initiated and typically lasts four to ten days. Simultaneously, the colorants and tannic elements contained in the skin diffuse into the fermenting must. Depending on the type of red wine sought, maceration may be more or less extended.

Draining and Pressing

 Draining of the tanks is conducted to end the maceration process. By gravity, the wine is separated from the pomace (the solid parts of the grape). The wine thus drained is called "free-run wine." Simultaneously, the pomace is removed from the tank and then pressed to extract the soaked wine. This is known as "press wine," which is richer in color and tannins. Depending on the type of wine desired, free-run and press wines are blended either immediately or after aging. At this stage, a second fermentation, called malolactic fermentation, is initiated. It serves to naturally reduce the acidity of the wine.


White Wine Vinification

The distinctive feature of white wine vinification is the absence of maceration. The crushed harvest is immediately pressed to avoid prolonged contact between the must and the grape skins. The must, freed from all impurities and solid parts, then ferments. A white wine typically expresses its freshness and briskness, due to a good level of acidity. This is why the initiation of malolactic fermentation is most often inhibited.

Rosé Wine Vinification

Contrary to popular belief, rosé wine is not a blend of red and white wine. Except for rosé Champagne, such blending is prohibited by law. Rosé wines are made from red grapes with colorless or lightly colored juice. This can be achieved by :


...Either a white wine vinification method :

direct pressing of red grapes, known as white wine vinification: to prevent the juice from becoming too deeply colored, pressing should not be too intense so as not to tear the skins and release too much coloring matter.

...Or an intermediate vinification between white and red wine

An intermediate vinification between white and red wine, involving a bleeding technique (saignée) after a brief maceration of the harvest. Draining is carried out when the must reaches the desired color.

Vinification of Sweet Wines

Sweet wines are made from grapes very rich in sugar, harvested late, sometimes until December in several successive picks. This sugar richness is achieved by over-ripening or concentration. There are various ways to achieve this concentration: either through the action of Botrytis cinerea or by drying the grapes.

The must from botrytized or dried harvests is very rich in sugar and low in acid. At the end of the alcoholic fermentation, when the sugar and alcohol levels are deemed sufficient, the fermentation is stopped by fortification or the addition of sulfur dioxide. The wines are then stored for two winters in barrels or vats before bottling.

Vinification of Fortified Sweet Wines


A VDN (Vin Doux Naturel, or naturally sweet wine) is a fortified wine, meaning the alcoholic fermentation is stopped by the addition of neutral grape spirit. This process aims to increase the alcohol content of the wine while preserving a large amount of the grape's natural sugars. Depending on the type of VDN being produced, white, red, or rosé, the fortification is performed at a specific stage of the alcoholic fermentation, with or without maceration.