From Vines To Wines
From vines to wines
It takes years to produce your own wine. The planting and winemaking process is lengthy but the results can be so sweet and well worth your wait. Grapes are grown all over the world as one of the most widely produced fruits but wines from different regions have their own distinct blend of flavors.
Different grapes for different wines
Your land will be an important factor in determining the kind of grapes you grow and the kinds of wine you produce. For example, cooler climates that have sandy soil can be the perfect environment to produce Sauvignon Blanc.
There are there main kinds of grapes including American, European and Muscadine. American grapes are hardy and can withstand cold weather. European grapes prefer warm, dry climates and are great for wine or the table. Muscadines are native to North America and typically found in the South. Although there are only three types of grape categories, there are many different varieties that fall within these groups.
Caring for young vines
Before you plant your vines, construct a sturdy tells or arbor. This will provide support for the vines as they grow upwards. Build your arbor in full sun with deep, loose soil. Plant the grape vines about 10 feet apart to provide room for healthy growth. Make sure to provide plenty of water after the vines have been transplanted. If birds are an issue for your young vines, mesh nets can help protect the buds.
Don’t expect to produce your first wine label within the first couple years of planting. The root system needs a few seasons to grow strong enough to support the grape clusters. The good news is, you have time. With proper care, grapes will flourish and produce fruit for over 30 years. Plus your vines will not go to waste. Grape vines add decoration and beauty to any garden landscape.
After the winter, when the vines are still dormant, it’s time for pruning. Prune the vines every spring before the buds start to swell. Be gentle in the pruning process but don’t be conservative. Extensive pruning is essential to produce a big grape harvest. It’s important to find the right balance of pruning the buds, which grow grapes, and pruning the shoots, which grow leaves.
Grape harvest usually falls in the late summer or early fall weeks. You may need to trim back the leaves on the vine before harvest. This allows more sunlight to reach the clusters of grapes. Ripe and ready grapes will have a rich color and a full, juicy flavor. This transition is called veraison. White grapes are typically ready for harvest before red grapes but your timeline will depend on what kind of wine you’re producing. After harvest, grapes can be stored in your cellar for six weeks but make sure to keep them separate. Grapes easily absorb the odors and flavors of other food.
From the field to the bottle
Once the grapes are harvested, the stems are removed and they’re crushed. To make red wines, the grapes will need to stay in contact with the grape skins. White wines are better with minimal contact between the grape and the grape skin after harvest. All wines begin with some form of pressing the grapes but from there the process varies greatly depending on the specific kind of wine. Before being bottled, the grapes undergo a fermenting and aging process. Wine flavors are constantly developing, even after it’s bottled. This is why it’s important to store your wine at the right humidity and temperature levels.
The wine-making process is detailed and lengthy but for the dedicated men and women who produce it, the work is worth the wait.