Wine 101: Terms: Quality Winemaking at Scale

Is there anything a Frei Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon can’t do? From perfecting last-minute weeknight dinner parties to providing a luxe experience without breaking the bank, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most sought-after wines in the U.S. You can’t go wrong with a quality Cabernet Sauvignon.

The typical wine journey often begins with affordable, entry-level wines — supermarket stuff or the $20-and-under section at your local wine shop. These wines are usually the product of scaled-up, high-volume operations, but that doesn’t mean they’re low quality. Well, some of them are, but that’s besides the point. With the help of both the organic and sustainability agricultural movements — and a bit of modern technology — winemakers have cracked the code of keeping quality in check as production rates soar.

Whether you’re running a winery by yourself or managing an industrial juggernaut that ships wine to every corner of the globe, the grapes must be treated gently and carefully. That’s a non-negotiable. After that, there’s a lot that a winemaker can do — budget permitting — to expedite certain processes and increase efficiency. There’s been an industry-wide shift from wood to stainless steel tanks over the past 50 years, which has done wonders for sanitation practices and avoiding off-flavors. But even more profound is a process inspired by the mining industry: the implementation of conveyor belts in the mid ‘90s for moving grape deliveries directly from the trucks they come in on, through the winery, and into one of several wine presses. Once the pressed grapes are transferred into their respective steel tanks, the juice is regulated by a computerized system, allowing winemakers to make small adjustments, like increasing fermentation temperature, with their iPhones. It’s a relatively hands-off approach, but it allows for much higher yields and, of course, cheaper wine, all without sacrificing quality.

To help us break down some of these systems and modern marvels, we’re joined today by Scott Kozel, head winemaker at Frei Brothers and vice president of coastal winemaking at E. & J. Gallo Winery. Tune in for more.

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“Wine 101” was produced, recorded, and edited by yours truly, Keith Beavers, at the VinePair headquarters in New York City. I want to give a big old shout-out to co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for creating VinePair. Big shout-out to Danielle Grinberg, the art director of VinePair, for creating the most awesome logo for this podcast. Also, Darby Cicci for the theme song. Listen to this. And I want to thank the entire VinePair staff for helping me learn something new every day. See you next week.

E. & J. Gallo Winery is excited to sponsor this episode of VinePair’s “Wine 101.” Gallo always welcomes new friends to wine with an amazingly wide spectrum of favorites, ranging from everyday to luxury and sparkling wine. (Gallo also makes award-winning spirits, but this is a wine podcast.) Whether you are new to wine or an aficionado, Gallo welcomes you to wine. Visit today to find your next favorite, where shipping is available.