Many people at some point in their life fall in love with the idea of owning a vineyard and becoming a winemaker. However, it is a long process that usually involves many different elements to take place, namely an education in the winemaking process, some experience in the field (literally) and a passion for the craft. Without the latter one, it is more than probable that a person won’t last in this industry, since it requires hours and hours of work. Here is what you will need if you want to become a winemaker.
An Education in Winemaking
Every profession requires an education. Of course, if you are born in a family of winemakers, it is probable that you have learned the trade as you were growing up. But it still doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t study it in school, so that you can create even better wine than your ancestors. There, you will learn about the science of grape-growing, winemaking techniques and wine chemistry, which can completely change the way that you see the art of winemaking. You can also gain practical experience by working as an apprentice or intern at a winery.
Of course, being a winemaker also implies technical tasks to be learned and applied. For example, vineyards typically bottle their own wine as part of the winemaking process. Once the wine has aged and matured inside barrels, it needs to be bottled and labeled, which is a process that takes place at the vineyard to ensure quality control and to maintain the brand image. A wine maker has to be able to oversee the whole process and buy new bottling conveyors when it is time to grow and raise production.
Learn Wine Tasting
To become a winemaker, you must have tasted a large number of wines and continue to do so regularly, in order to understand the subtleties between them all. It is the only way that a winemaker will be able to taste the wine that he produces and to evaluate its quality while making adjustments, if need be.
During the wine tasting phase of his work, the winemaker will use his senses to evaluate the color of the wine, the aroma and the flavors. This process enables them to discover an off flavor, an imbalance of components, or worse, a bacterial or yeast cultures that could affect the wine quality as it ages. Before their wine tasting work is completed, they will also evaluate the finish, which refers to the aftertaste of the wine. Based on their evaluation, the winemakers may make changes to the winemaking process. It could mean adjusting the fermentation temperature, blending various grapes or wine batches or even modifying the aging or bottling process.
Winemaking Is an Art
If you don’t have the soul of an artist, winemaking can be difficult. Just like a great chef in a restaurant, the winemaker will have to find the right balance of fermentation and the exact number of months for the aging process to take place. These are things that cannot be taught in books. Only experience can make you better in the process. But first, the answers need to come to you intuitively, which is precisely why it is an art. Just like a guitar player will know exactly which note will come next during his solo without ever thinking about it, a great winemaker will make decisions based on his guts.
Becoming a Winemaker requires a combination of formal education, practical experience, technical skills and passion. But most of all, it will require patience and love for the soil where the grapes grow.