It all starts with the vine. People often tell us how they want to buy and own a winery. I always say the same thing in response “So, you want to be a farmer!” Ten times out of ten (so far) they say no and insist they just want to own a winery. Then back and forth we go…..
Wine starts as a vine, not even a grape. The vine is so important that we spend weeks studying it and its needs to survive in the WSET Diploma program. Like every plant, a grapevine has specific needs and enemies.
What does a grapevine need to grow? Water, sunlight, heat, nutrients, carbon dioxide, and oxygen.
Each of these provide the vine with specific needs during its growth cycle.
Sunlight mixes with the water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide to create photosynthesis, which all green plants need to sustain life. Sunlight also helps the development of anthocyanins, which create the color in black grapes. Too much sunlight on the other hand can be harmful to the plant and grapes in the form of sunburn to the fruit or actually shutting down photosynthesis.
Heat, which is different from sunlight itself, is needed to protect the plant from freezing. It also helps the buds form and grapes ripen.
Water keeps the stomata (small pores in leaves) of the plant open, this is important because it helps to keep the cycle of water within the plant moving, bringing nutrients up from the ground.
Nutrients are the food the plant needs, the important part of nutrients is the balance between them so they don’t fight each other. When nutrients are out of balance one can take over and push another to the side. An important factor in keeping this balance is the PH of the soil.
Though this is a simple explanation of what a vine needs, it does show how complex the process of monitoring elements can be. In addition to the vines’ needs, monitoring of its enemies and pests is equally important. This for next time.
So you want to own a winery……..but do you want to be a farmer? Even if you don’t grow your own grapes you need to understand how all of this works so you can write your contracts with the grape grower with specifics that will assure that the grapes you get are of good quality and in the condition you want.