What Would You Like to Know About Winery Tour and Tasting? Here are 10 Fast Facts, Including 2 Wine Myths Busted.
Do you enjoy wine and would like to venture out to explore more about it? If so, you will find a visit to a winery for tour and tasting to be very helpful and enjoyable. We sure did when we visited Williamsburg Winery at 5800 Wessex Hundred, Williamsburg, VA 23185.
A Chateau-Like Setting You'd See Somewhere in Europe
It was a hot day in the middle of July with only anticipation of what we would see and taste to keep us moving towards the Chateau-like structure ahead. Once we arrived, we were accompanied by a very knowledgeable wine educator on this tour, and here are some fast facts he shared with us:
General Winemaking Information
I. Fermentation is simply the process of yeast turning sugar into alcohol, not just in winemaking but other beverages like beer.
II. Barrels, which cost about $1000 brand new, are used in winemaking to impart four important things to the final product.
D) Ability to Age
Barrels vs. Stainless Steel Aging
III. Typically red wine stays in barrels for 10-18 months while white stays in barrels 4-8 months, after which it is usually kept in stainless steel tanks until bottling takes place. Wine can be aged using stainless steel containers to begin with instead of wooden barrels, but stainless imparts no flavor to the wine. It is completely dependent on the grapes with or without the skins to furnish the flavor of wines aged in stainless steel. Generally, stainless is used more in white wines and barrels more often with reds, but that is not a hard rule and depends on the wine producers' preference.
Common Wine Myths Busted
IV. Myth: All wine gets finer with time. Truth: Only 1% of all wine produced is meant to age for more than 5 years.
V. Myth: You can tell a good wine by the high price. Truth: Price is not the best indicator of a very good wine. It is still taste. More specifically, our wine educator tells us you get more flavor through nasal passages than your tongue. That is the sensation that makes you want to pucker. Hey I knew there was something to that. I have said I know I like the wine if it makes me feel I want to kiss. Now I know why.
VI. Grapes grow best in soil that is nutrient-deficient, in other words, poor soil. The vines need to struggle to make the best wine. Our guide further noted that much of the land had formerly been used for tobacco farming and had destroyed the soil, which was perfect for vineyards. He also said soybeans are used to put nitrogen in the soil.
Four Seasons at the Winery
VII. In the dead of winter, even while snow is on the ground, grapevines are pruned.
VIII. Spring brings on buds and vines.
IX. Summertime trimming prevents stress. In late summer and early fall, grapes are harvested.
X. Fall is the exciting season for winemaking!
Williamsburg Winery produces some 60,000 cases of wine per year. There are 12 bottles to a case, so that is how many bottles per year? Yes, that's 720,000 bottles, which makes them the largest wine producer in the commonwealth of Virginia. The winery offers budget-friendly tour and tastings daily year-around. You can call 757-229-0999 to check the schedule for a time you would like to visit or go to www.williamsburgwinery.com. The people are very knowledgeable and down to earth. At the end of the tour and tasting, you can make selections of the wines to buy in the full-service retail shop. The wines typically ranged in price from about $7 to $24 per bottle with discounts on half and full cases. There were some other varieties that costs much more like reserve wines, but that is subject for another day. For today, this was plenty in which to find pure delight!