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Banfi for a better wine world
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2022 19 Septiembre


The process that transforms grapes into one of the oldest and most appreciated beverages in the world is both fascinating and complex, a skillful combination of human expertise, acquired over centuries of study and research, and the magic of nature. Learning how wine is madeand delving into the workings of the elaborate microcosm that is the process of winemaking allows appreciating to a greater extent the wide variety of wine-making offered by Italian soils and the excellence that results from research and innovation of wineries like Banfi.

Enthusiasts wondering what it takes to make a good winewill find in this article the basic steps (growing, harvesting, crushing, fermentation, aging and bottling) of the winemaking process.

It is difficult to summarize the experience of those who have made wine production their philosophy of life and work: passion for their land, deep knowledge of the territory and a constant desire for innovation are just some of the principles that guide wineries like Banfi.


To make a good wineone requires first of all quality raw materials. For example, grapes that are the result of a long selection process that begins with choosing the right soil in which to plant the vineyards.

Within the approximately 3,000 hectares of the Banfi estate, thanks to zoning studies that had been started in the early 1980s, some 29 different soil types, with different characteristics, altitudes and latitudes, as well as exposures, have been identified.

Up to 150 meters above sea level we find compact, clayey soils with moderate temperatures, excellent for producing elegant wines. From 150 and up to 300 meters above sea level, however, there are sandy, light, dry soils that favor the production of more concentrated, tannin-rich wines. Deep soils with medium texture, suitable for producing more aromatic to structured wines, are found above 300 meters above sea level.

The study of the winemaking area to determine the suitability of a soil, based on its microclimatic and soil characteristics and the cultivation of a particular type of grape variety, is a key step in the winemaking process. It is also a theme particularly dear to the Sanguis Jovis - Alta Scuola del Sangiovese, the first permanent study center dedicated entirely to the research and study of one of the most widely grown grape varieties in Italy: Sangiovese.


When the grapes reach perfect ripeness, the harvest begins. The timing of the harvest varies depending on several factors, such as the type of soil and grape variety, but also latitude or weather conditions that change from year to year. In Italy, it is harvested between early August and late October.

Traditionally in the past, the grapes are harvested by hand: experienced winemakers carefully select only the best bunches, choosing them from those that are free of cosmetic blemishes and have the right degree of ripeness. Today, manual harvesting is complemented by mechanical harvesting.

In the Banfi vineyards, ancient procedures merge with new technologies. The hand-picked grapes reach the winery on the sorting bench, where the individual bunches are carefully hand-selected by our experts to ensure that only the best ones are used to make wine. Once the machine-harvested grapes reach the winery, however, they are mechanically selected so as to ensure the best quality for the final product.


In the case of hand-harvesting, the process of making wine continues with destemming, which is followed by crushing the grapes.

Within the vast range of traditions and festivals related to the cultivation of the land for winemaking, in the past, crushing was a festive occasion for village families, who gathered in the squares or near the vineyards and took turns crushing with their feet the freshly harvested grapes inside large basins.

Nowadays, modern crushing procedures for winemaking are based on the use of specific machines that crush the grapes without deteriorating the skins (mechanical crushing).


We are finally ready for one of the most delicate steps in the entire production process: fermentation.

Alcoholic fermentation has the primary purpose of converting sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide (glycolysis) and the secondary purpose of producing the so-called fermentation aromas that will characterize, in part, the wine's olfactory bouquet.

Fermentation can be triggered by yeasts (called indigenous or native) naturally present in the air and deposited on the grape skins. However, because of their changeable nature, it is not always possible to identify with certainty which ones are really useful and which ones could compromise the stability of the wine. For this reason, scholars recreate laboratory-selected yeast cultures with which to make higher-quality wines.

Fermentation times and temperature

How many days must grapes ferment to make wine? The duration of vinification depends essentially on the type of grape and the wine to be made from it: full-bodied and structured wines, such as Brunello di Montalcino, require a very long fermentation, which ranges from a minimum of 15 days up to 40 days and more.

Throughout the process, the temperature of the must needs to be monitored, both to ensure the very start of the fermentation process and to keep the aromatic characteristics of the wine intact.

At Banfi, mainly temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks are used for white wines, although partial fermentation in barriques is used for some of them. For important red wines, such as Brunello di Montalcino, Horizon vats, combined steel and wood vats at controlled temperatures are used.


Once the fermentation stage is completed, racking takes place. After racking, the wine is decanted into barrels for the aging phase. To make a good wine, the quality of the wood, usually oak, from which the barrels are made is crucial, as it is a "living and active" material that influences the organoleptic and olfactory qualities of the wine.

At Banfi, the choice of wood, shape and size of the barrels has always been the result of expert research and selection of the best innovative materials.

Wine aging time depends on the variety of grapes, as well as the type of wine to create. Red wines, especially full-bodied and highly structured ones, for example, need several years of aging.


The last step in the winemaking process is bottling. Before being bottled, the wine may be filtered then deprived of oxygen by adding nitrogen into the bottle, where it will either do further aging, in the case of particularly structured wines, such as Brunello di Montalcino, or it will be ready for consumption.



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