Monday, March 11, 2013

In the Vineyard

How many of you have been to a vineyard?  Raise your hands.  Anyone helped prune a vine?  Witness harvest? Tasted the berries right off the vine?

Well I have not.  I have visited vineyards in the US; New Jersey, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, but unfortunately these are mostly tourist destinations with the bulk of the grapes planted elsewhere.  Now that I am knee deep in my diploma studies of viticulture and vinification, I am wishing that I had gone out and spent some time with the vines. 

Next time you pop open a bottle, take a moment to ruminate on all of the work that dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of people have had to do to get it to your mouth. 

It all starts with an idea.  Lets start a vineyard and make wines!  But first you have to....

a)  find the perfect places with the perfect climate
b) determine which grapes are viable for the soil, climate, market, etc. and procure them
c) get the soils ready for planting (years of work)
d) determine the best planting density given your soil and cultivar.  plant the first vines
e) 3 years later can plant the first crop
f) spray, prune (decide on the trellis system and pruning style), water, love, pray for those vines

g) carefully monitor the crop...canopy management, soil management, water management, pest control....
h) determine optimum ripeness for style and harvesting

This is all before the winemaking ever begins!  I would be very curious to hear from anyone who has participated in any of these processes.  How do you assess what's just right for your crop?  Comment if you have some experience.

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