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Making Cabernet Franc: Tips from the Pros

Derek Wilber, Anthony Road Wine Co., Penn Yan, NY on cabernet franc and quality juice. Cabernet Franc “Adapting your techniques to the climate of a region is the essence of creative winemaking,” says Derek Wilber, one of the partners at Anthony Road Wine Co. In the cool climate of the Finger Lakes region, Cabernet Franc tends toward deep aromas of blackberry and currants. Mouthfeel, however, suffers if tannins are not carefully managed. “Typically, red grapes are crushed and fermented on the skin and seeds to extract color, flavor, and tannins,” Wilber explains, “but in our climate, the same weather that creates desired fruit characteristics limits seed ripening. And since the skin and seed coats contain tannins, the lack of ripening means that the seed coat tannins remain harsh and undesirable.” By comparison, Wilber says that warmer climates produce Cabernet Franc with less fruit characteristics but higher tannins because of riper seeds. And because seed tannins are alcohol soluble while skin tannins are water soluble, the difference in solubility allows for an opportunity to adapt your winemaking technique. First, Wilber crushes