Ever wonder how your favorite Penns Woods Winery vino ends up in your glass? Winemaking is part art, part science and part of our DNA. The pursuit of the perfect wine is what drives us every single day.
Our storied history starts with our president and winemaker Gino Razzi. His passion begins with selecting award-winning varietals to plant and is evident through every step of the process. He’s instilled that love into the entire team—and it shows in your glass.
We’re bursting with pride over our vineyards, but some of the real magic occurs when the grapes are picked and sent on their journey to greatness. We asked our vineyard manager and assistant winemaker Davide Creato to brag a bit and give you, our thirsty friends, the inside scoop on how we craft wine.
5 Steps to Making Wonderful Wines
First and foremost, we harvest by hand—because it’s the right thing to do. We begin very early in the morning and harvest as fast as possible so that the fruit stays as chilled as possible for immediate production. We harvest in smaller, 20-pound lugs (yellow collection buckets) so the grapes stay intact until we choose to crush them. We crush and process all our grapes the same day as harvest.
When to pick? When the grapes are perfect. We look at and consider the levels of Brix (sugar content), pH and acidity—and we taste the fruit, too. We start testing whites twice each week in the beginning of August and then more frequently as we get closer to the harvest; our reds get the same treatment starting in early September.
2. Crushing and Pressing
Crushing sounds so … rough. In reality, crushing is a very gentle process in our state-of-the-art crushing and de-stemming machine. It expertly removes all stems and pops the berries to prepare for pressing.
At Penns Woods, our pressing is done entirely oxygen-free with a bag press and nitrogen gas to protect the juice from oxidation. This results in pure, delicious grape juice we send on its way to fermentation.
Fermentation occurs in a temperature-controlled environment in stainless steel tanks. Depending on the varietal, yeasts are added to turn sugars into alcohol. The process is stopped when we achieve the right sugar and alcohol level for each type of wine.
This step removes solids from the wine. At Penns Woods, we let the wine clarify on its own throughout the winter, adding extracts of coal to give Mother Nature a hand and settle some of the sediments we want to remove. This happens in our refrigeration systems, but we also take advantage of the Northeast’s cold winter days and throw open the door of our winery to cool our tanks.
5. Aging and Bottling
We’re proud to use only 100 percent French oak barrels for all our red wines. The roughly 55-gallon barrels expertly age our reds anywhere from 12–24 months. Our whites are aged and stored in stainless steel for a shorter period of time, again depending on the type. We also bottle-age as appropriate, for as little as six weeks and as long as one year.
We keep an eye on different things for different wines throughout the aging process and taste-test to make sure the profile is perfect. Only then do we send the wine for filtering and bottling, another process accomplished without the wine ever coming into contact with oxygen. And then, it’s off to you.
We take great care, from start to finish, to make sure our wines are just what Gino envisioned when he started Penns Woods Winery. Living up to his exacting standards means we produce high-quality wines with superior taste. Visit our tasting room to find your next favorite vino. Salute!
Penns Woods Winery is a family-run Pennsylvania winery. With more than 40 years of experience in the wine business, winemaker Gino Razzi and his daughter, Carley Mack, produce award-winning wines from Pennsylvania-grown grapes. Penns Woods wines can be found in restaurants throughout Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs. Stop in to your local state store and pick from a limited selection of wines, or visit our tasting room for the full offering. The tasting room in Chadds Ford provides an all-around vineyard experience and hosts live music, food and wine pairings and other exciting events each weekend. Score Penns Woods Winery news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter today!
Go behind the scenes with the Penns Woods Winery team in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.