Another Amazing WineMaker Conference in Santa Barbara, CA
This year’s WineMaker Magazine Conference was held in Santa Barbara, California — and what a conference it was.
This annual event just keeps getting better and better each year with the many seminars, exhibitors showcasing their latest products, boot camps, workshops, and so much more. But what I specifically look forward to is the camaraderie of amateur winemakers who proudly haul their precious bottles of wine to share with others. It’s true that wine brings people together, and the conference’s setting is just the perfect place to share wine and exchange winemaking stories with fellow winemakers.
During these exchanges, I’m often asked to give my opinion on one’s wines. And you know me: I tell it like it is.
Year after year, I am impressed by the vastly improving quality of homemade wines. Many could rival commercial wines. And I’m also very pleased with the quality of kit wines, increasingly more indiscernible from their fresh juice and grape counterparts.
Though the wines showed good balance, a recurring theme in my feedback was tannin management. Either the wines were made from under- or over-extracted grapes, or from excessive oak tannin extraction from barrels.
Tannin extraction and management has to be one of the most challenging aspects in red winemaking. It is particularly true at crush where one has to gauge how much to extract based on desired style, grape variety, and conditions of the grapes.
But you shouldn’t worry if you can’t always get just right at crush time.
It is so much easier to make adjustments once the wine has been stabilized and just prior to bottling. This is where you should conduct as many taste tests as possible to determine the optimal balance and integration of tannins with all other elements. Don’t shy away from using tools such as PVPP, gum arabic to see what effects those have and if they improve the wine. You may want to refer back to my Techniques column on Tannin Troubleshooting: Control through understanding in the April/May 2011 issue of WineMaker to learn more about tannin management.
So I hope to try more of your wonderful wines next year in the Finger Lakes.
Until then, happy winemaking, and make sure to tame those tannins.