France #13: The Wine Making Process

After a tour to a wine cellar in Vouvray, Crawford Rice ’21 has a newfound respect of the wine industry.

Our day began in the classroom, as we discussed our previous day’s expedition, and continued our focus on grammar and vocabulary. At 2:00, we departed for a wine cellar just over ten minutes from the heart of Tours in the town of Vouvray. Upon arrival, we were shown a short video detailing the creation of wine, from beginning to end. I was shocked by the sheer magnitude of the process, and the level of detail put into each bottle.

In the beginning, grapes are grown for several seasons in preparation of an intermittent hand-picked harvest, ensuring that each patch is fully ripe. After harvest, the grapes are squeezed, and the process of fermentation begins. Wine, to my surprise, is confined to the cellar for at least one and a half years, and often can remain for many more than just that. As the wine nears removal, the act of removing built up residue within the bottle begins, which can be completed through a series of manual turns, or more expensive mechanic and automatic movements.

After this, we entered the frigid cellar, amazed by the extent of the cave. Spanning over three kilometers in distance, this particular wine cellar in Vouvray houses over two million bottles of wine at any given time. As we approached one clump of bottles, we attempted to determine the number in just that group. Three thousand, five thousand, even ten thousand was thrown out in guessing. Yet, we couldn’t be further from the truth. The correct number: over 102,000. The columns of bottles stacked on top of each other spanned thirty-four rows back, and seemed to be no outlier among the others.

Of course, we weren’t allowed to taste any wine, but were able to smell various perfumed drinks, as well as try the cellar’s own sparkling grape and black current juice, which most everyone enjoyed. As we departed the cellar, I believe each member of the group had obtained a new understanding and respect of the wine industry.

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