Sparkling Wine Production Workshop Coming to Penn State Extension – An Applied Workshop for Wine and Hard Cider Producers

By: Denise M. Gardner

On March 7, 2017, Penn State Extension will host their first sparkling wine production workshop titled: Improving Bubblies in the Eastern U.S. at the Great Valley Penn State campus in Malvern, PA.  (For more information on this program, please click on the title of the workshop.)

Figure 1: Sparkling wines at the tasting bar at Iron Horse Winery in CA. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

Figure 1: Sparkling wines at the tasting bar at Iron Horse Winery in CA. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

Sparkling wine and sparkling [hard] cider production has become a hot topic for many Eastern producers.  Some are interested in traditional sparkling wine production methods, occasionally referred to as méthode champenoise, while others are integrating modern approaches into their processing facilities to incorporate bubbles in their wines.  The use of pressurized tanks, bottling under a pressurized system, and completing fermentation while retaining carbonation in a tank are all processes I have seen during my recent travels throughout the state.  While pét-nats will not be covered at this workshop, there is a previous blog post pertaining to pét-nat production, which you can find here.

Sparkling wine production is a specific form of wine production that incorporates and retains carbon dioxide in the finished wine.  The traditional method, méthode champenoise, includes the production of a base wine to about 10-11% alcohol and is bottled with the liquor de triage: a combination of sugar, yeast, and yeast nutrient.  The bottle is sealed and as the second fermentation progresses in the bottle, the carbonation produced by the yeast is retained.  Once this second primary fermentation is complete, the bottles are riddled (Figure 2) to collect the dead yeast cells within the neck of the bottle.

Figure 2: Two ways of riddling sparkling wine at Korbel Wine Cellars, CA. Photos by: Denise M. Gardner

Figure 2: Two ways of riddling sparkling wine at Korbel Wine Cellars, CA. Photos by: Denise M. Gardner

Each bottle is then individually disgorged and the dosage is added to the wine for final sugar adjustment.  Then, each bottle is sealed with a Champagne cork.  Both Champagne and Cava are great examples of wines produced by the traditional method.

Other methods of producing and retaining carbon dioxide exist.  In the Charmat method, once the base wine is finished fermenting, it is moved to a tank that can withstand pressure.  The triage is mixed into the wine within the pressurized tank.  When the second fermentation is complete, the spent yeast will settle at the bottom of the tank, and the wine must be racked under pressure to retain the carbonation produced by the second dose of yeast and sugar.  The final dosage is added to the wine and then bottled under pressure.  Italian Prosecco sparkling wines are great examples of the use of the Charmat process.

Others may utilize direct carbonation after the base wine has been completely finished.  This can aid in creating a very fruit-forward style of sparkling wine or used to carbonate fruit wines or ciders.

This program will cover information for producers looking to get into sparkling wine or cider production or for those that would like to improve the quality of their products just a bit more.

We’ll cover basic harvest parameters (i.e., Brix, pH, TA and grape flavors) associated with traditional sparkling benchmark producers and discuss the general production and chemical composition of the base wine used to create sparkling products.

Additional speakers include Jerry Forest, the founder of Buckingham Valley Vineyards, Steve DiFrancesco, the winemaker at Glenora Wine Cellars in NY, and Megan Hereford from Scott Labs.  As popular sparkling wine producers, Jerry and Steve will discuss their experiences with sparkling wine production throughout their winemaking careers.  They will cover technical details pertaining to managing the second fermentation in the bottle for those attempting to produce a sparkling wine in the méthode champenoise style.  Additionally, Steve will cover alternative methods for incorporating and maintaining carbonation in sparkling wines.  Megan will also give a technical talk on how to stabilize sparkling wines, including the use of CMC in sparkling wines.  This is a great session for those producers looking for practical tips on how to produce sparkling wine.

After a catered lunch, a panel of regional winemakers will share sparkling wines for all attendees to taste and discuss the processing techniques associated with those wines.  This is an educationally-focused tasting so discussion is encouraged and expectorating all samples is mandatory.

While this program has a tasting component focused on sparkling wines, all of the techniques and information will be applicable to hard cider producers, as well.

Registration, the full agenda, location, and cost of the program can be found here: Sparkling Wine Production: Improving Bubblies in the Eastern U.S.  We hope to see you there!

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One response to “Sparkling Wine Production Workshop Coming to Penn State Extension – An Applied Workshop for Wine and Hard Cider Producers”

  1. abigailauren says :

    I meant to email you this last week, but I was so excited to read this one because we are riddling right now at CBD and will be disgorging & bottling our sparkling in January!

    🙂

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