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How Wine Is Made

Modern Marvels: How Wine Is Made – Full Episode (S13, E54) | History

Celebrating ingenuity, invention and imagination on a grand scale, “Modern Marvels” tells the amazing stories of the doers, dreamers and sometime-schemers who create everyday items, technological advancements and man-made wonders. From the Statue of Liberty to distilled spirits, and canals to bridges, no subject seems out of reach. Science, technology, electronics, mechanics, engineering, architecture, industry, mass production, manufacturing, and agriculture are just some of the many topics that have been covered during the long-running series.

Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from fermented grapesYeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide, releasing heat in the process. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts are major factors in different styles of wine. These differences result from the complex interactions between the biochemical development of the grape, the reactions involved in fermentation, the grape’s growing environment (terroir), and the wine production process. Many countries enact legal appellations intended to define styles and qualities of wine. These typically restrict the geographical origin and permitted varieties of grapes, as well as other aspects of wine production. Wines not made from grapes involve fermentation of other crops including rice wine and other fruit wines such as plumcherrypomegranatecurrant and elderberry.

Wine has been produced for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of wine is from the Caucasus region in today’s Georgia (6000 BCE), Persia (5000 BCE), Italy and Armenia (4000 BCE). New World wine has some connection to alcoholic beverages made by the indigenous peoples of the Americas, but is mainly connected to later Spanish traditions in New Spain.[1][2] Later, as Old World wine further developed viticulture techniques, Europe would encompass three of the largest wine-producing regions. Today, the five countries with the largest wine producing regions are in ItalySpainFrancethe United States, and China.[3]

Wine has long played an important role in religion. Red wine was associated with blood by the ancient Egyptians[4] and was used by both the Greek cult of Dionysus and the Romans in their BacchanaliaJudaism also incorporates it in the Kiddush, and Christianity in the EucharistEgyptianGreekRoman, and Israeli wine cultures are still connected to these ancient roots. Similarly the largest wine regions in ItalySpain, and France have heritages in connection to sacramental wine, likewise, viticulture traditions in the Southwestern United States started within New Spain as Catholic friars and monks first produced wines in New Mexico and California.[5][6][7]

The Areni-1 cave in Armenia is home to the world’s oldest known winery.

Texas has a long history of wine production. The sunny and dry climate of the major winemaking regions in the state have drawn comparison to Portuguese wines, in addition to other regions in Europe like Spain, France, and Italy.[2] Some of the earliest recorded Texas wines were produced by Spanish missionaries in the 1650s near El Paso. Texas ranked as the fifth largest wine producing state by 2019.[3]

The state is home to over 42 members of the Vitis grape vine family with fifteen being native to the state, more than any other region on earth.[1][4] As of 2017, the state had over 4,550 acres (1,840 ha) planted with Vitis vinifera.[1] Despite being the largest of conterminous states, this relatively small amount of planted land is dwarfed by the production of even the smallest French AOCs like Sancerre. The Texan wine industry is continuing its steady pace of expansion and has gained a reputation as an established wine growing region in the United States.[5]

As of 2021, there are more than 470 wineries in Texas. Over 2,000,000 gallons of wine were produced in 2021 making it the fourth-largest wine producing state in the nation. [10] That puts Texas behind California, Washington, and Oregon respectively. Mesa Vineyards was the largest wine producer in the state with 500 acres (200 ha) planted near Fort Stockton in West Texas. First established as an experimental vineyard in 1987 with the University of Texas System, the winery produced wine under multiple labels with the primary brand of Ste. Genevieve. The second largest winery is Llano Estacado Winery.[4] Most of the wineries offer tastings. Besides standard wine tastings where a flight of wines are tasted, many wineries are offering special tasting experiences that include food and wine pairings, and more.[11]

Wine Enthusiast magazine named the Texas Hill Country as one of the 10 best wine travel destinations in 2014.[12]

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