Section I: The Fundamentals of Wine Chapter 2: The Vineyard – From Soil to Harvest
Introduction • Quality of a wine is determined in the vineyard as much as in the winery. • Wine grapes are grown primarily for flavor • Factors influencing the character of grapes: • Environmental • Cultural
Grapes Used for Winemaking • Majority of world’s wine is produced from grapes • Most wines produced from Vitis vinifera • Variation exists within a single grape variety. • Clones are genetically identical to original vine. • Different clones have different flavors. • In Eastern US, Concord and Scuppernong grapes are grown. • Late 1800s • Europeans imported native American grapes. • Several grape pests and diseases introduced to Europe. • Grafting technique developed
Soil and Site Ground is the most fundamental aspect of vineyards. Qualities of soil affect character of wines. Grapevines can grow in different soil conditions.
Parameters of a Soil’s Makeup Parent material or rock Size of the particle Chemical composition and pH (acidity) Organic matter and nutrients Depth
Characteristics of Soil • Ratio of sand, silt and clay • High proportion of clay (Heavy) • Great capacity to hold water • Generally contain more nutrients • Sandy soils (Light) • Hold less water • Usually lower in nutrients • Mixture of clay, silt and organic matter (Loam) • Fertile, drains well • Mixture of silt, sand, loam and gravel (Alluvial)
Soil Nutrients • Grapevines need enough nutrients for healthy growth. • Minerals have limited direct effect on flavor of grapes. • Too high = toxic • Too low = deficient
A Vineyard’s Topography • Elevation, slope and orientation as important as soil • Hillside vineyards • Have better drainage • Susceptible to erosion and wind damage • Winterkill = death of vine tissue from excessive cold.
Terroir • French term describing environmental factors on a given vineyard • Holistic philosophy including: • Composition • Drainage • Mineral content • Topography • Direction of slope • All climatic conditions
Climate Climate has potentially greater influence than soil. Grape varieties are suited to diverse climates. Grapevines do best in temperate zones. Grapes require adequate rainfall or irrigation. Grapevines are often grown in coastal areas. Macroclimate = broad weather conditions of a particular wine-growing region Mesoclimate = local conditions Microclimate = climate surrounding a particular vine
Techniques of Grape Growing Site must be well-chosen and prepared for planting. Number of options for trellising Sun efficiency for ripening grapes A vineyard’s vigor relates to yield
The Growing Season Budbreak Bloom Véraison Harvest Dormancy
Budbreak Northern Hemisphere begins between Feb and April. Southern Hemisphere begins between Aug and Oct. Vines end winter dormancy Buds formed during previous year’s growing season begin to swell. Growing shoots are susceptible to diseases and frost. Field workers trellis vines at 18 inches to keep them growing in the proper direction.
Bloom • Eight weeks after budbreak, grapevines bloom. • Self-pollinating; do not require bees for fertilization • Fertilized grape flowers develop into berries. • Non-fertilized flowers “shatter” (drop off) • Shoot continue growing after bloom. • Fruit clusters enter lag phase. • Grower must properly balance water demand.
Véraison The beginning of ripeness Starts mid-late summer (8-10 weeks after bloom) Shoots approach their maximum length. Dramatic changes in fruit clusters. Grape berries begin to get sweet. 6 to 10 weeks after véraison, the grapes are ready for harvest.
Harvest • Traditional method • Grapes are picked by hand into baskets. • Baskets are carried to the end of the vineyard rows. • Trailers transport grapes to the winery. • Method is very gentle to both fruit and vines. • Mechanical harvesters • Straddle rows of vines and shake them vigorously • Grape clusters are collected and carried to a bin • Can be operated at night • After picking • Grapes are weighed and brought in for processing into wine.
Organic Viticulture • Growing grapes without any man-made substances • Reasons for doing this: • Belief that it produces healthier, better tasting fruit • Commitment to protecting the environment • Extra handwork makes organic viticulture more expensive.
Sustainable Viticulture • Vineyard practices do not degrade the fertility of land or the surrounding environment • Promotes agricultural practices that: • Allow the minimal use of pesticides in the vineyard • Use natural mulch • Reduce tilling to pProvides many benefits of organic farming with less risk to the crop and a lower cost of labor • reserve the soil
Biodynamic Viticulture The farm is a holistic entity; it must be managed sustainably so that it’s in harmony with the natural world Uses practices of sustainable and organic farming Incorporates spiritual and homeopathic elements Involves more esoteric and unscientific practices
Organic Winemaking Produced and bottled from organically grown grapes No man-made additives are used in the cellar
Dormancy No new growth occurs Much less sensitive to cold weather Pruning is most labor intensive and important task. Vine must be left in balance.
Major Grape Varieties Barbera Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon Chardonnay Chenin Blanc Gewürztraminer Grenache Malbec Merlot Muscat Blanc Petite Sirah
Major Grape Varieties (cont.) Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio Pinot Noir Riesling Sangiovese Sauvignon Blanc Syrah/Shiraz Tempranillo Viognier Zinfandel