Even in the days where automation is king, the workers at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery rely on as many hands-on and old-world techniques as they do new-school ones when it comes to making wine. On this episode of Dan Does, host Daniel Geneen visits the company’s reserve vineyard in Geyserville, California, and observes the entire process from vine to bottle.
He begins out in the field, where the EVP of production and chief winemaker Corey Beck shows him cabernet sauvignon grape vines that were planted in the mid-’80s. A team of skilled pickers meets them and blitzes the vines, pulling off hundreds of clumps of grapes in the blink of an eye. The higher-quality wines need hand picking, explains Beck, to keep out as many leaves as possible, and as not to disturb the more sensitive branches and vines.
Once the grapes are picked and the majority of the leaves are removed by hand, they’re headed to a crushing machine that is harsh enough to break the skins, but not so harsh that it crushes the seeds, which would release bitterness into the wines. The crushed grapes and juice are then sent to ferment for about two weeks in open-air tanks that can hold up to 55 tons of liquid.
The wine from each tank is taste-tested, and put in toasted oak barrels to age. From there it undergoes secondary fermentation, which changes it from malic acid to lactic acid, giving it a creamier mouthfeel and making it more palatable.
Check out the video to see other parts of the process, like the bottling process, how the Coppola Claret wines get their signature gold netting, and more.