How Wine is Made: From Harvest to Bottling

Posted By Don Sumner on Oct 31, 2014 |


How Wine is Made: From Harvest to Bottling

Every year, in late summer, our harvesting process includes these basic steps:



  1. Pick 
  2. Crush 
  3. Ferment 
  4. Age 
  5. Bottle 


Sumner Vineyards-new growth

Everything starts in the vineyard, and the land is of primary importance. The late Dr. Robert Pool, grape specialist at Cornell University provided the following concise overview of vineyard site selection:

“The most fundamental and irreversible decision in the life of a vineyard is the choice of site…The decision will influence the profitability of the vineyard, [and] identifying a site where the vine can grow and mature is crucial to the very survival of the future vineyard.”


cuting grape cluster1. Picking The Grapes

On properties with mixed grape varietals, such as ours, we start picking white grapes first, and then move to reds. The grapes are collected in bins (also known as “lugs”) and then transported to the crushing pad by truck. Although some vineyards use mechanical pickers, we hand pick. Our pickers work against the clock, trying to pick at the peak of ripeness and before rains can come in and bring mildew and molds. It’s fast, hard, exhausting work.













2. Crushing The Grapes

Once de-stemmed, our grapes are lightly crushed and, along with their skins, are transferred into stainless steel tanks to start fermentation in contact with their skins. This is what imparts the red color to red wine.





ssfermenter13. Fermenting Grapes Into Wine

Fermentation converts sugar into alcohol. Ideally, we want the fermentation to stop on its own, at complete dryness. Once the wine is dry, the grapes are pressed and the wine settled in a stainless steel container. The wine then goes through a second fermentation, and after it is somewhat settled, it’s filtered and moved to clean barrels.




barrel aging4. Aging The Wine

We taste throughout the aging process to monitor the wines, and age our Pinot Noir wines in steel tanks and new oak barrels. Our Pinot Noir Rosé and Pinot Gris are aged in stainless steel tanks.







5. Bottling The Wine

When our winemaker, Mike Sumner, feels a wine has reached its full expression in aging, it’s time to bottle.



After aging and bottling, the last step (of course) is to relax with friends, good food, and a glass of wine. Cheers!

wine being poured, barrel