LEXINGTON A lot goes into making a bottle of wine. Its not just planting, harvesting, crushing and bottling.

Although those things are included it is a much more complicated process and there is also quite a bit of science involved. Its something Macs Creek Winery and Vineyards winemaker Seth McFarland loves.

Recently McFarland was balancing on a ladder, with a 50-pound bag of sugar, feeding yeast in a giant vat of Macs Creeks Brianna.

This particular vintage of wine was in the fermentation process. Many winemakers do not add sugar during this process because it is easier to back add it at the end. However, McFarland, who is like a mad scientist, prefers the hard way.

I wouldnt do it any other way, he said. Its definitely the harder way to do things, but I think it makes the finished product fantastically better.

During the fermentation process yeast converts sugar to alcohol. It is something McFarland must constantly monitor as nearly all of Macs Creeks wines are table wines and must fit into a specific percent of alcohol by volume in order to be labeled as such.

That percentage is between nine and 14 percent. Anything more and federal law mandates the percentage be printed on the label.

After the fermentation process McFarland then racks the wine, which is a stabilization process. This will happen several times before going to bottling, which McFarland says is one of the most difficult parts in the entire winemaking process because according to him, there is a lot that can go wrong.

Once the wine has been bottled McFarland said it needs time to sit and settle.

After it has had time to settle it is ready for the customer, he said. Swirl, sniff, sip and enjoy.

This is obviously the short version of how wine is made. Many factors go into the making of wine, which requires a deft hand in chemistry to maintain specific levels, know when to stop the fermentation process and when to add ingredients.

Its like a huge scale chemistry project, McFarland said from atop the ladder.

Of course winemaking in Nebraska is vastly different from winemaking in other regions of the United States. In fact, it differs widely depending on what region winemakers in Nebraska are from.

The difference between Lexington and Lincoln and Omaha area winemakers differs widely McFarland said. Climate variation and even soil pH levels are different from one side of the state to the other.

The up and down climate and weather are what gives Nebraska wines, like Macs Creek, their unique qualities.

The grapes love it, McFarland said, but it can stress the plants out.

McFarland said the types of grapes used at Macs Creek are similar to the ones many winemakers in the Midwest use, which is a cold-hardy French-American hybrid. The reason is because this type of grape stands up better to the harsher climates of the Midwest.

McFarland says he can make wine similar to white zinfandels and he can also make sweeter wines in the style of Germanys Rieslings. The latter is the more popular in Nebraska, and it is something McFarland focuses on.

The biggest variable facing Nebraska winemakers is the weather. Last year there was an abundance of rain, while this year the state has been plagued with drought.

Some years are different, McFarland said. It all depends on what Mother Nature throws at us.

While McFarland may not be able to control the weather he can control his product, and that starts by listening to what the people of Lexington tell him.

Despite being an award winning winery McFarland said he does not concern himself with competitions. For him its all about his customers and making the wine they want to drink.

Its fun, but I dont care, he said of the competition. I know what our customers like and I listen to them. I dont put a lot of stock in competitions.

Things like that you have to take with a grain of salt, he said pausing, or in my case sugar.

Original Story Here

Resources:

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