We’re continuing the spirit of harvest with a little wineducation. So many folks come to the valley to learn about winemaking, explore the culture, take a hot air balloon Napa ride. Take a moment to learn a thing or two about how grapes turn into wine so your wine country trip will be a little easier to keep up with!

Winter Pruning

Napa Valley has a ton of varietals which means our season last a while. The winter pruning season takes a considerable amount of time as different varietals require it at different periods. Pruning means snipping up the vine in a specific way to guide it in certain directions and specific purposes.

Bud Break

This is exciting because it’s when the first tender buds of growing season start to peak out of the their vines. This can take place over a two month period throughout the valley. Next time you’re flying over Napa in a hot air balloon Napa ride, look at the vineyards and think about what stage they’re in. Most likely, bud break happened a while back before you fly.

Flowering

Exactly what it sounds like. After a month (ish) of vegetative growth, a vine will develop tight bunches of little flowers. Each flower means there is a potential for a grape berry. At this point there is concern over frost and wind. Large fans to circulate cold air, sprinkling vines with water that creates a thin layer of protective ice, using heaters to warm air temp, are all methods vintners use to care for young vines. Want to learn more about winemaking? Our wine tour + hot air balloon Napa ride can help!

Fruit Set

Tiny green spheres start to appear where the flowers once were. The fruit will now begin to ripen but vintners still keep an eye out for frost.

Canopy Management and Crop Thinning

Leaf removal, vigor management, and other methods help manage the growth of the vine. Crop thinning is the decision to drop unripe grapes in order to manage the yield – smaller yields means bolder wine! Taste some of the amazing wines to come during our hot air balloon Napa adventure with a wine tour!

Veraison

Grapes start to change colors and their multi color element is a sign of veraison or ripening.

Harvest

We’re in it now! Grapes are tasted, tested for maturity, color, texture, and tested again and again. When it’s time, they’re picked throughout a course of a few months depending on the varietal. Exciting time in Napa indeed! This is a great time to soar the skies and witness the fall colors of vineyards on a hot air balloon Napa ride!

Crush, Fermentation, Aging, Bottling

These speak for themselves but here’s a summary: Crush is when winemakers use amazing technology to gently crush the grapes before fermentation. Red crushed grapes are then fermented with their skin (to give that red color and tannins) while white grapes ferment without their skin. Fermentation takes place in large tanks and aging then occurs in oak barrels most commonly. Bottling of course is when wine is placed in bottles. The process here is very different winemaker to winemaker. Book a wine tour + hot air balloon ride Napa adventure and ask the winemakers how this process goes in their winery!