Tips for the Micro-Winery: Creating and Following a Successful Wine Program

It’s December. The cellar is quiet. The cacophony of harvest has faded. The wines have completed primary fermentation and are finishing in barrel. Now, we begin the slow journey through elevage – making decisions that will effect a wine’s arc of potability. It sounds like a heady task, but following a few very simple routines can result in a successful wine program.

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What do I mean by ‘wine program’?  For the branded winery, having a wine program means making and releasing wines on a schedule, with a house style that is both unique and recognizable to the public.

For the micro-winery, a wine program is principally deciding which wine to make, making the wine, and bottling it. If you have intentions to sell the wine, then this too would become a part of the program.

To this end, each variety that you make should be understood as a construct of aromas and flavors that are captured by the winemaker and enjoyed by the consumer. Harvesting those flavors and aromas has as much to do with the grape as it does with how the wine is treated before, during, and after fermentation.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

Tasting wines of a similar style and/or variety is one very important way to begin this process. Knowing how you want your wine to taste can help you to plan out the processes that are imperative to your success.

Let’s take a look at three ‘wine programs’ and how they might be conceptualized – an early release white wine; a dry white wine meant for some aging; and a red wine meant for extensive aging. Included in these wine programs are a series of steps/tips that one would follow when making each type of wine.