Starting in the vineyard working outward, what are some of the factors that influence grape production?
- Geography (latitude, elevation, etc.)
- Aspect (direction vineyards face)
- Grapes (whether they’re allowed to be planted or if they suit the climate/soil)
- Viticultural practices
- Annual weather patterns (e.g. summer hail)
- Regional wine laws + regulations
- History of region’s grape growing + winemaking
What are some considerations that have to be made when establishing a new vineyard?
- Environmental and climate considerations
- location and aspect of proposed vineyard
- soil type/fertility, drainage, average sunlight/rain
- Trade and regional considerations
- how remote is the vineyard and how much does land cost?
- how much will it cost to find labor, buy barrels, manage the vineyard, etc.?
- what kind of wine does the owner want to make (large or small production)?
- what local or regional laws exist that would need to be followed?
- What grapes will do well here?
- which varieties suit the climate?
What is the difference between climate and weather?
Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get.
Climate is a region’s expected, daily average level of temperature, sunlight, warmth and rainfall over time (for example, Provence’s climate is warm or Mediterranean);
Weather is what happens day-to-day and what you see outside your window.
The majority of the world’s vineyards are located between which two of the earth’s latitudes?
30° - 50° north and south of the Equator in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
What are the differences between:
- refers to the climate of a region, e.g. Burgundy;
- refers to the climate of a village, a cluster of vineyards on a slope, or a particular vineyard, e.g. the village of Puligny-Montrachet, the Grand Cru slope of Chablis, or the Bonnes Mares vineyard in Chambolle;
- refers to the climate of a single vineyard or even the climate within the vines and around the canopy, e.g. vines at the top of the hill vs. the bottom of the hill in Clos Saint-Jacques (Gevrey-Chambertin) or the terraces in Valtellina, Lombardy.
What are the 4 major climates of winegrowing regions?
- High Desert
Define Continental climate and give an example.
A Continental climate is one that has climate extremes: hot summers and cold winters.
They tend to be interior regions.
Northern Rhône and Ribera del Duero are examples of Continental climates.
Define maritime climate and give an example.
Maritime climates are those that are influenced by large bodies of water and have warm summers and mild winters with rain falling year-round.
Bordeaux and Rías Baixas are examples of Maritime climates.
Define Mediterranean climate and give an example.
Mediterranean climates have very warm, dry summers and cool, rainy winters.
They’re usually near or around coastlines.
Southern Rhône and McLaren Vale are examples of Mediterranean climates.
Define High Desert climate and give an example.
High Desert climates are hot and arid, particularly during the day, with temperatures plummeting at night.
Leona Valley AVA in California and Cochise County, AZ are examples of High Desert climates.
What temperature descriptions are used to further characterize the 4 major climates?
e.g. Mosel, Germany has a cool Continental climate; Elgin, South Africa has cool Maritime climate; and the Southern Rhône has a warm Mediterranean climate.
What are some factors that influence a region’s climate?
- Diurnal shifts
- How many hours of sunshine the region gets
- Weather threats
What is a diurnal shift?
The change in daytime high temperatures to nighttime low temperatures.
The shift can be just a few degrees, making the diurnal range small; or the shift can be huge, making the diurnal range large.
How does the diurnal shift affect grapes?
If the diurnal range is small, the grapes will ripen more quickly;
If the diurnal range is large, the grapes will ripen more slowly.
The ripening speed determines how balanced the accumulated sugar and acidity is within the grapes.
What is the range of minimum sunshine hours a vine needs during the growing season?
1200-1500 hours minimum, depending on the climate/region.
The average usually ends up being 1300 hours of sunlight.
What are some weather threats that can affect the health and general survival of a vineyard?
- Deep winter freezes
- Strong wind
How can hail affect a vineyard?
Hail damages vines by:
- perforating the leaves, rendering them unable to photosynthesize;
- puncturing or destroying berries, making them useless and decreasing that year’s yield;
- damaging the vine with small wounds, into which disease and rot can fester.
How does frost affect vines?
At what point in the vine’s annual cycle is frost most dangerous?
Frost is most dangerous at budburst (March/April in Northern Hempishere, Sept/Oct in Southern Hemisphere).
How frost affects the vine:
- it can delay budding and flowering (which means the grapes are at risk of not fully ripening);
- new plant material can freeze and die;
- spring frost can decrease the annual yield.
How does a deep freeze (either in the spring or winter) affect the vine?
If a freeze is severe, the vines are at risk of being killed.
How do strong winds affect vineyards?
Strong winds can:
- uproot vines
- blow them over
- blow off delicate flowers, which means no grapes will form
What are 2 geographical climate moderators?
- Bodies of water
What constitutes a body of water?
Bodies of water:
How do bodies of water influence climate?
Bodies of water can help:
- cool a region
- warm a region
For example, cool Pacific Ocean breezes help moderate the warm temperatures of Sonoma Coast. Alternately, Lake Erie helps keep the Finger Lakes region warm in the autumn by releasing warmth it stored over the summer.
How do mountains influence climate?
Mountains can provide:
- Rain shadow
- Vineyards planted at higher elevation
- Wind/drafts that can have cooling or warming effects on vineyards
What is a rain shadow?
Give two mountain ranges that provide rain shadows.
A rain shadow is when mountains are at such a high altitude that they block the passage of rain clouds (read: bad weather gets stuck in the mountains) leaving the downwind side with more sunshine and lower cloud clover + precipitation.
The Cascade Mountains in Washington State and the Vosges Mountains in Alsace, France both provide rain shadows.
Temperatures drop by one degree for every ____ meters in elevation rise.
Where are higher altitude vineyards typically found?
Why would a vineyard be planted at higher altitude?
Higher altitude vineyards are typically found in warmer/hotter regions.
Higher alitutudes provide vineyards cooler temperatures which help keep sugars and acidity in balance.
What are some beneficial effects of wind on a vineyard?
- helps prevent mold + rot by circulating air
- can cool a region, especially if the wind is coming from a cool body of water
- can warm a region, especially if the wind is coming from an arid area
What 3 topographical features can influence viticulture and climate?
- is the vineyard on a hillside or on the valley floor?
- which direction is the vineyard facing? Is it getting gentler morning sun or harsher afternoon sun?
- Proximity to body of water
- is there a body of water nearby to moderate temperatures or provide wind?
Steep hillsides are usually _____ fertile than valley floors.
Hillsides experience more erosion than valley floors.
Why are valley floors more susceptible to frost than hillsides?
Because cool air collects and stays stagnant on valley floors.
Hillsides experience more air flow, thereby decreasing frost risk.
When describing which way a vineyard faces – E/SE, S/SW, etc. – what term are you using?
In hot regions like Etna, Sicily, that are closer to the Equator, it makes sense for vineyards to have north or east aspects so that the quality of sun they get is cooler. Conversely, in more northerly latitudes, such as Champagne, it makes sense for vineyards to have south/southwest aspects to take advantage of as much sunshine as possible.
The majority of the world’s top vineyards are planted on soils that are:
- very rich + fertile
- very poor + infertile
Very poor + infertile
List the soil types in which most vineyards are planted.
Name a region in France known for its granite soils.
Name a region in France known for its chalky/limestone soils.
Name a region in France known for its marl soils.
Côte de Nuits, Burgundy
Name a region in Portugal known for its schist soils.
Name the 3 major parts of the grape.
What characteristics do skins add to a wine?
- give astringency
- from anthocyanins
- aromas are unique to each grape varietal
What do the seeds/pips add to a wine?
- astringency (how much your mouth dries out)
What does the pulp of a grape add to a wine?
- sugar increase as a grape ripens
- acids decrease as a grape ripens
Most wines in the world are made with the European vine genus/species ____ ______ for quality grape production.
Name two other grape genus/species used in wine production.
- Vitis labrusca
- Vitis riparia
Approximately how many grape varieties are known within Vitis vinifera?
- 1 - 1000
- 1000 - 5000
- Upwards of 10,000
Upwards of 10,000
Examples include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot
What is the first thing that needs to be considered when planting a grape varietal for a specific vineyard?
Local wine law
Do local regulations specifically say what can or cannot be planted?
What other considerations must be made when determining what grape varietal to plant?
- Climate compatibility
- will the grape you want to plant ripen where you want to plant it? Or is the cilmate too warm for the grape you want to plant?
- Soil compatibility
- does the grape you want to plant perform well in the soil type where you want to plant it?
What are 3 terms used for grape breeding?
What is a hybrid?
When 2 or more different species are used to create a new variety.
For example, Baco Noir is a crossing of Folle Blanche (V. vinifera) by an unknown species of V. riparia.
Why are grape hybrids created?
Usually with a specific intention, such as:
- pest or disease resistance
- increased frost resistance
- improved flavor, color, or yield
What are grape crosses?
When vines of the same species are combined to create a new variety.
Example: Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc were crossed to create Cabernet Sauvignon.
What are grape clones?
Identical reproductions of a vine, usually made by taking cuttings from an existing vine to propogate specific traits.
When grapes grow in a cool climate, what are some of the general characteristics they express?
- Lower alcohol
- Slow/low sugar accumulation
- Slower ripening
- Higher acidity
- Flavors tend to be tarter, higher toned, under- to just-ripe
When grapes grow in a warm climate, what are some of the general characteristics they express?
- Higher alcohol
- Higher sugar levels
- Grapes fully ripen
- Lower acidity
- Flavors tend to be juicy, opulent, fully ripe but can lean over-ripe
What is meant by ‘vineyard architecture’?
How vines are arranged within a vineyard.
What is meant by ‘vine spacing’?
How far apart one row of vines is from the next row of vines.
Depending on the soil, aspect, elevation and grape varietal, some vine spacing is closer together, to create competition, and some vine spacing is further apart, to give the vines space to root down.
What is vine training?
Training a vine is a way to control production of leaves, shoots, and grapes.
Vines need to be trained on a trellis otherwise they’ll grow willy-nilly.
Define vineyard yield.
Yield is the amount of grapes produced in an acre (or hectare).
Yield is measured in:
- tons/tonnes per acre/hectare
- hectoliters per hectare
- pound per kilo per vine
An average yield is 40-60 hectoliters per hectare.
What is green harvesting and why is it done?
When extra grape clusters are removed from the vine.
Green harvesting is done to balance leaf area and fruit for a crop that’s higher in ripeness. After the fruit is dropped, the vine can then concentrate its energy on the clusters that remain, with the aim of making those remaining clusters higher in quality.
What are 5 key components of vineyard management?
- Canopy management
- Pests and Disease
- Anti-fungal and -bacterial treatments
What is canopy management?
Canopy management is essentially managing the growth of the green parts of the vine – leaves, shoots, and fruit – to optimize yield and air flow, improve fruit quality, reduce risk of disease, and facilitate future harvest.
What is irrigation?
Give 1 example of how a vineyard can be irrigated.
Providing a vineyard extra water in order to cultivate vines.
Ways to irrigate a vineyard:
- Drip irrigation
- Flood irrigation
Name some pests that can affect vines and vineyards.
- Phylloxera (root louse)
- Nematodes (microscopic worms)
What is phylloxera?
A louse that is native to North America that attacks vines’ roots and ultimately kills vines.
It first appeared in Europe in the 1860s and nearly decimated European vineyards in the late 19th century. It continues to be a scourge today.
North American vine species are more resistant to phylloxera. It is for this reason American rootstocks are widely used across the world.
What do fertilizers do?
Fertilizers are meant to boost soil fertility and infuse nutrients into the soil.
However, commercial fertilizers are known to be filled with salts and other chemicals which affect a vine’s health in myriad ways.
Fertilizers can be organic or commercial.
How do anti-fungal and anti-bacterial treatments work?
They are applied to vines either via sprays or soil injections to prevent or diminish molds, mildew, and rot and to preserve fruit quality.
What is ‘harvest’?
When the grapes are picked.
What are the 2 methods used for harvesting grapes?
What are their differences?
- By hand (aka hand harvesting)
- more expensive
- labor intensive
- slower than machine harvesting
- With machines (aka mechanical harvesting)
- machines don’t discern between clusters, so there could be more sorting involved and increased possiblity of under-ripe or diseased/sunburned clusters getting into your crop load
How does a winegrower determine when to pick their grapes?
They look at the the overall grape maturity:
- Sugar ripeness
- how much sugar has accumulated in the grapes
- Physiological ripeness
- how ripe the cluster as a whole has matured
- Phenolic/tannin ripeness
- maturity of the tannins in the skins and seeds
What are ‘vineyard passes’?
How many times a winegrower has to go through the vineyard picking only the ripest clusters at each pass, leaving the under-ripe grapes on the vine until they’re ready to be harvested.
Fun Fact: in France, vineyard passes are called ‘tries.’
Give two examples of when it’s really beneficial to machine harvest.
- When you’re a day or two out from harvest and a huge rainstorm is coming, which is bad because all that extra rain can dilute the flavors of the grapes;
- When you have a huge amount of vineyards to harvest and labor is either scarce or too expensive.
Why does the size of the harvesting bin matter?
Small bins allow for more careful selection of grapes so diseased/under-ripe/damaged clusters don’t make it into your crop load;
Small bins mean there is less of a chance of puncturing berries, which leak juice and can lead to premature oxidation;
Large bins are better for big volumes of commercial wine that don’t necessarily require the detailed selection process;
Large bins can cause berries to split, losing juice and compromising quality.
Why are vintages important?
They give insight into the consistency or variation(s) of that particular vintage.
When a year’s weather is consistently good througout the growing season, the style of wine produced is classic for that region. However, if the region sees variation(s) from the typical weather, the resulting quality and/or style of wine can be different from what is ‘normal’ or expected of that region.
Some vintage variation threats include wildfires, drought, and excessive rain.
What does the term ‘terroir’ mean?
It loosely means a sense of place.
It encapsulates everything that happens in and around a particular region or appellation, from the climate, to topography, to what other crops grow around the vines, to the winegrower’s vineyard and winemaking practices.
What can regional wine laws dictate?
- Which grapes are allowed to be grown and where
- How grapes are grown/trellised
- When they’re picked
- How they are aged
What is meant by ‘historical background’ when discussing region/vineyard/wine?
- What has happened viticulturally in that place for generations;
- What has been established as best vineyard practices;
- What grapes grow best in that place;
- What styles of wine that place is known for.