The Hunter Valley is the first region in Australian wine to begin vintage and also the first to finish. Every vintage imparts a special footprint on each wine, telling a distinctive and individual story each year.
But what is vintage?
“Vintage” is a term used to describe the harvest time of grapes in wine growing regions. the year the grapes were picked is noted on the wine label. When reading a wine label you will notice the variety then the year of vintage.
Merriam-Webster defines vintage as;
‘a season’s yield of grapes or wine from a vineyard’
The word vintage was first used in the early 15th century. It was adapted from the Old French vendage (wine harvest) deriving from the Latin vindemia (grape-gathering), in turn coming from vinum (wine) and demere (to remove).
Vintage in the Hunter Valley begins with the white varietals, generally sometime from mid to late January. White grapes need less heat than red grapes to ripen. The lack of maturity of tannins is not a problem, since they are not extracted at pressing. In addition, the taste balance is based on a significant liveliness due to the acidity. As much as grapes used to make white wine are classified as ‘white grapes’, they usually contain varying levels of colour on the skins. What makes white wine different from red or rosè wine production, is the absence of skins in the fermentation process.
The basics of the winemaking process are pretty simple.
First you need to grow and harvest the grapes. Secondly, the grapes are crushed to extract the juice. The third process is fermenting the juice into alcohol, and finally, the last thing is to remove unwanted particles along with the storing and bottling the wine to be distributed in the market.
It looks simple enough for anyone to make wine. BUT is making quality wine really that simple? There is more that goes in to the winemaking process than what meets the eye, and the winemaking process is more knotty and strenuous than initially thought.