A Chicago Wine Tour: Our Winemaking Process
Going from grape to glass
We hope you’ll visit soon and hear firsthand all about our process, but until then, here’s a virtual behind-the-scenes Chicago wine tour to tease your palate.
It all starts in the vineyards
As an urban winery, we do things a little differently. That starts with getting our grapes from all corners of the country, from California to New York. Sourcing fruit from the most talented growers across the U.S. gives us the unique opportunity to feature wine styles that reflect a diverse range of climates and growing conditions.
The grapes may be far away, but they’re always on our mind. Our wine division team scours the country for vineyards to work with based on a variety of factors, including — oenophile nerd alert ahead! — soil type, trellis, canopy management, rootstock, and grape variety match. But most importantly, they get to know the people who farm the land. Once we find a great vineyard, we look to continue working with these growers for years to come. They are our eyes and ears in the vineyard, and ultimately their work is showcased in the bottle.
Harvesting by hand
Wine style is directly linked to the timing of the harvest, so this is a particularly critical period. We make our picking decisions based on analyzing things like grape flavor development, skin softening and phenolic maturity, sugar accumulation, pH and total acidity (TA) balance, overall vine and grape cluster health, and upcoming weather conditions.
We work closely with our growers to determine the optimal time to hand harvest, making the call on when each cluster is cut off the vine by hand and placed into a small picking lug. From there, the grapes are carefully shipped to the winery in refrigerated trucks so that they show up in pristine condition, as if we picked them in our own backyard.
An art and a science
Once the grapes get here, it’s all systems go as we start the winemaking process. There are a lot of long days and nights — filled with a little bit of nerves and a whole lot of optimism — as the grapes begin the fermentation process and then move on to aging in an oak barrel or stainless steel tank.
Next, some will get blended, and all will eventually be hand bottled and aged. Once we think a particular bottle is ready to please palates, we bring it to the tasting room or serve it at your special event. Wine is a living thing and whenever a bottle is opened, it’s a (tasty) snapshot of where that wine is at this moment in time.
Our philosophy: Let the grapes do the talking
The challenges of an urban setting spur creativity, resulting in the wide variety of innovative and elegant wines. While we’re well trained in traditional methods, we’re also never afraid to experiment and push the boundaries of what’s considered possible. But ultimately, we don’t try to do too much — although we obsessively pore over every detail of the process, we trust in the grapes, letting them speak for themselves.
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