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HOUSTON (CW39) – We have already shown you how the weather impacts growing the wine making grapes outside in the fields, now we are stepping inside to focus on the taste and fermentation process.

Paul Bonnarigo says, “Everything in the cellar is climate controlled, however, there are things that the weather does in the vineyard that impact the wine making process. Sometimes you don’t see those things manifest until you are completed with fermentation”.

Sometimes you can pick up on the taste of a rainy season or notes of a late freeze. At this point in the year they are no longer fermenting. What goes on inside the barrels?  

Paul adds, “In barrel fermentation, we do a lot of the same processes that you do in stainless steel. Depending on the wine, will determine where you are doing that fermentation process. First you must bring in the fruit, process it, and get the fruit juice. You inoculate it with a particular yeast strain, based on the characteristics you are looking for in the wine. That yeast then starts the fermentation process and converts the sugar to alcohol. Then there are a lot of processes that happen after that. For example, if you are doing barrel fermentation, this can include some chardonnays, a process called Bâtonnage is used. This is the stirring of the barrel.” 

Most of the time your white wines will be aged in stainless steel until they are ready to be bottled, whereas your red wines then go through a minimum of 1 year in oak barrel. These barrels hold up to 25 cases of wine and weigh in at around 300lbs!

“A fusion barrel is a combination of French and American oak together which creates a more well-rounded profile for the oak style that we are looking for in that flavor of wine. There are also different toast profiles that bring out different flavors from the oak itself. There are barrels that are 100% French oak, the French oak brings out a great flavor in the wine as well. The benefit of using different types of barrels, is that when you out them all together for the finished product, there is a much better quality and better flavors.”, says Paul. 

I asked Paul if people drink wine based on the season, or the temperature outside. Normally, I correlate a nice Rosé with a warm and sunny spring afternoon! 

Paul says, “Timing of wine consumptions is based on the cuisine that you are enjoying. Although the example of a rosé is great! You want to enjoy a rose while it is fresh. Rosés are processed and fermented in October and November and bottled in early spring. You get all the great experiences when you enjoy those wines fresh. Whereas, six months later, it is still a beautiful wine, it just has different characteristics than it would have in the spring. Rosé is a good example of seasonal wine consumption”.  

We normally see higher consumption of dark reds during the wintertime, this is because the foods associated with that time of the year, pairs better with it. For example, the richer sauces, heavier foods, and roasts that you see around the holidays. Port is also a big wine around the holidays. However, Paul did add that it is tough to beat a refreshing glass of white wine out on the patio on a nice summer’s day. I asked Paul what his personal favorite wine is… I was delighted to find out that it all ties back to family.  

“Paulo is very near and dear to my heart, the best fruit from every season goes into a very hands-on process with me and my dad. It is named after both of us, my dad is the 6th generation Paul Bonarrigo and I’m the 7th. So, we call it “Paulo”. It’s the wine making spirit of us trying. To showcase the best of the vineyards that we work with. We make the wine, it goes into brand new oak, so you get these rich fruit characteristics from the great quality fruit. Then you also get this complexity that comes with the brand-new oak, and they are our biggest boldest reds that we make, and they are normally fast sellers. If I can enjoy a bottle of Paulo… That’s a good day.”, Paul smiles.