Vino 101: What happens in the vineyard?

10 Apr

Remember back in kindergarten when you went on the spring farm field trip? No? I’ll fill you in. Once upon a time when Señorita Vino was just a chiquita, a big yellow school bus drove me and my fellow little suburbanites to a working farm where we got to see baby chicks, orange trees, and a cow about to give birth. My best friend Wendy stepped in a large pile of–okay, I think you get the picture.

Spring is here, chicas y chicos, a reminder that wine begins on an agricultural farm–the vineyard. And unless that vineyard is managed by an expert, you’ll end up with wine that is mediocre at best, crappy at worst.

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How do you make sure the grapes you’re growing produce quality wine? It would take at least 10 blog posts to answer this question, but some of the big factors are vineyard location, soil, climate, aspect and vineyard management. Today we’re going to focus on the latter.

This two-and-a-half minute video on vineyard management is like a kindergarten farm field trip for grown-ups, minus the cow chips. You’ll get a basic explanation of vine management from a source who is easy to understand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCE2kHvJ-xM

A few points for clarity before you watch the video:

“Root stock” is the root system from which the grapevine grows. The roots of most wine grapes are vulnerable to diseases from pests, so the root stock from a resistant species of grape gets planted in the ground, and the actual wine grapevine  is grafted onto it. A super-simple example: Let’s say that an underground bug really loves to devour tangerine tree roots, but they hate lemon tree roots. To grow tangerines, you’d plant lemon tree roots in the ground, and then graft or attach the tangerine tree to the lemon tree stump and root system.

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Remember that if a vine has too many grape clusters on it, they all have to share the nutrients provided by the vine and they may not ripen very well. The fewer clusters you have, the more nutrients and concentrated flavors each cluster gets.  The more concentrated the flavors, the better the quality of wine. That’s why vine training and controlling fruit load is so important.

Now that you have a basic idea about vineyard management, celebrate spring by visiting a vineyard. I know we usually go to wineries to taste wine, but if you take a moment to walk through the vineyard (ask permission first, or better yet, take a tour), I promise you’ll have a better appreciation for what’s in your glass. ¡Salud!

 

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