Winemaking 101: Basic Lingo » BALLOONS ABOVE THE VALLEY

So you came to wine country and you’re ready to explore all its beauty – from winery visits to a Napa Valley balloon ride. But first, brush up on some winemaking lingo to get you prepared for all the harvest and winery activities! Check out these common words you’ll hear any winemaker throw around.


You’ve heard it – a lot. And you probably already know what it is but here’s a refresher. Tannins are a naturally occurring compound (polyphenols) that are extracted from the grape skins and seeds. While they add body and structure to wine, they also make your mouth pucker. And for some people tannins can cause headaches if they’re too strong – a great way to test this is seeing if dark chocolate or coffee causes headaches for you, and if yes, stick to white wine! If you join us on a Napa Valley balloon ride + wine tour, you’ll learn all about these guys.


When a cluster of grapes has a mix of both green and red colors, that’s veraison. This means the grapes are ripening and becoming softer. Make sure to keep an eye out for veraison when you walk through the vineyards – after your Napa balloon ride of course!


This is the scale winemakers use to measure sugar quantity in grapes or juice. It helps determine ripeness too.


This means moving wine from one vessel to another. Racking aids in filtering wine and separating particles that will settle after fermenting. What are the particles called? “Lees.” Keep that in mind when you’re drinking your filtered and tasty wine after your Napa Valley balloon ride.

Pump Overs

Simply the mixing of tanks by pumping wine up from the bottom to submerge the floating skin cap, increasing flavor and red color of wine. Just picture all that whooshing and whirling!

Hot Bining

During harvest, wineries will fill a half-ton grape bin with hot water so grapes can soak. Easy. If you hop on a harvest tour after a Napa balloon ride, see if you notice this anywhere around the winery.

Now that you’ve pretty much become a winemaker yourself, test out your lingo on a wine tour through Napa and Sonoma! And combine it with a Napa Valley balloon ride! Just imagine soaring through the sky on a Napa balloon ride followed by a world class tour. Can’t get better than that!