Eat and Drink Wine-making secrets: Behind the scenes at City Winery By NINA RUGGIERO Updated October 5, 2014 4:20 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email Behind every bottle of wine is a long and complicated process. But at City Winery in SoHo, guests can opt to try it for themselves. We decided to dive in and get our hands dirty, and the rewards were fruitful, to say the least. Here's what we learned. Choose your grapes Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero These are Syrah grapes, sent to SoHo from Mendocino County in northern California. They are described as peppery, meaty and tannic. Send them up, up and away! Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero Once they arrive at City Winery, the bunches of grapes are sent up a conveyer belt, and dumped into the destemmer. Drop them into the destemmer Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero The destemmer removes the majority of the stems and leaves from the grapes. Stems are high in water and potassium, and, if left in, they take away from the wine's acidity and color. Leaves left behind would create a distracting aroma. Sort out any extra MOG Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero MOG is a winemaker's term for "material other than grapes." After going through the destemmer, the grapes are hand-sorted, and any left-behind jacks (that's a winemaker's term for bunches of stems), leaves, and sometimes the occasional lizards and insects, are removed, along with any imperfect grapes. What about the green ones? Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero The majority of the grapes in this wine are Syrah, but some Viognier grapes are added as well. This is a nod to tradition; the two varieties grow side by side in the Rhone wine region of France. The blending of complimenting flavors (Viognier has more of a peachy taste) also adds an extra layer to the finished product. This is a Syrah wine. In the U.S., a wine must consist of at least 75 percent of one grape in order to take on its name. It's time for fermentation Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero To kick off fermentation, yeast is added to the grapes and thoroughly mixed throughout the batch. In about one to three days, fermentation will begin. Our grapes will go through a cold fermentation, which takes longer than one done at a higher temperature. What is fermentation? Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero Fermentation is the step in the process that converts sugar to alcohol. Yeast will break down the sugars in the fruit, producing carbon dioxide and alcohol, and pushing the skins to the top. Winemakers call the layer that rises to the top the cap. Punch down the cap The cap must be broken up and mixed in with the liquid several times every day so it doesn't dry out. This is called maceration, and it can a difficult and dangerous job, due to the strength of the cap and the massive amounts of carbon dioxide involved. Keep it comin' Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero Once it's ready, more wine of the same variety will be added to the top of the tank. The dispensers are at the bottom, so the oldest wine can be poured first, of course. Let it age Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero While some wines at City Winery are aged in steel tanks, others are aged in oak barrels in the cellar. Oak barrels add an extra dimension of flavor, and when treated correctly, they can last for 30 years. The amount of flavor and aroma they are adding to the wine, however, decreases with time. Drink up! Photo Credit: Nina Ruggiero You can visit City Winer to drink, dine, take in a show or make your own wine. Should you choose to make your own, you'll be involved in every step of the process, from selecting the grapes to designing the label for the finished bottle. Learn more at citywinery.com. By NINA RUGGIERO Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.