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Picking red grapes for wine, picking any grapes, is a delicate process performed by hand.  And then comes the crush.  Afterward, the wine grapes and their luscious juices are pumped, or flow, into fermentation tanks.  Surprisingly, the fermentation usually just takes a few weeks.  (Everything in wine making, as with other aspects of life, must be preceded by the word ‘usually’.”)

During fermentation, the grape skins, seeds, and small pieces of leftover stems float to the top.  This happens during the beginning of autumn, and is a terrific time to take a California Wine Tour.  See the process first hand!  Back to business…  Unless a thick top in the barrel or tank is continuously broken up and mixed with the fermenting wine, you have quite a mess that will not be drinkable.  It’s as if you started making a cake, left the batter on the counter, and forgot to stir the mix up so you could stick it in the oven.  No good.

So.  When the fermenting red wine is mixed and remixed the tannins, the beautiful colors, and the perfect chemicals work to create the wine that the winemaker has envisioned.   The winemaker decides when fermentation is over, and the baby wine is moved into barrels or stainless steel tanks.  This is called the free-run juice, and it goes into the best wines.

When you go on a California Wine Tour, you might also want to consider December and January.  This is when the California wineries celebrate, open their doors, and offer you barrel tasting.  That is, you get to taste the wine right out of the barrel.

Winter is a party in authentic wine country.  You might want to join the good times when arranging your California wine tour!