It was quite surprising how much chemistry is in the winemaking even before fermentation.
In our second rotation, we actually went out to the vines with clippers in hand to help them harvest the grapes. We were divided up into the rows and given yellow containers with instructions from Vineyard Manager Jonas Muller to clip and taste the grapes. Yes, I said taste. Taste is an important part of the process so that you can get a feel for how the fruit is. First, you are checking to make sure that none of the grapes are sour as they could add a obvious bad taste. Second, you are tasting to check the ripeness. Younger grapes are overly acidic and will throw the PH/Brix levels off.
In the picture above, these are the actually grapes that I clipped to be made in to hopefully Cabernet Franc.
After we finished up, the college provided us lunch. Even better than that, Gabriele talked Blenheim into giving us a complimentary wine tastings.
All the wines were good, they had a Viognier, Chardonnay, Rose, Merlot and I think there was one more red. The website no longer lists some of these. The Rose was only sold by the glass because its popularity. I can also tell you that these wines had an amazing clarity, even the reds. I would recommend a trip to Blenheim for sure.
We then spent the rest of the afternoon touring Rausse’s facilities, which are not open to the public. Overall, I would recommend this class to anyone who isn’t too worried about getting their hands dirty (and clothes too!) and loves wine. It is as complex or as simple as you want it to be and led by you asking questions.