An Introduction To Viticulture
Viticulture is the study and art of cultivating and harvesting grapes. The quality of grapes determines the quality of the wine, hence the importance of viticulture. Viticulturists are the people who study grapes and their production.
Because of their proficiency, viticulturists understand the perfect time to harvest grapes. They also prevent pests, prune and fertilize their vineyards, and develop sustainable farming programs. Humans have been making wine for thousands of years, making viticulture an ancient art. Today, the winemaking industry produces billions of dollars a year.
Major localities grapes grown to make wine include France, possibly home to the most renowned viticulturists worldwide and known for the iconic red wines of Bordeaux; Italy, the world’s biggest producer of wines of different varieties; and Spain, famous for their full-bodied red wines like Tempranillo, and with a rich history of winemaking stretching back over many centuries.
Climate is one of the most crucial factors in determining how a grape turns out. The ideal climate for growing grapes is between the 30th and 50th parallel in each hemisphere. Grapes need to ripen slowly, and this kind of climate would prevent them from getting ripe too quickly. As the climate varies, viticulturists must adapt and make changes to keep water and light within the optimal range.
Soil quality is an important factor in viticulture. The quality of your land’s soil determines whether or not you can maintain a healthy crop yield. Viticulturists prefer to grow grapes on slopes and hills because of sunlight exposure and how easily one can drain them. Slopes facing the South are more favorable in the northern hemisphere because they get more sunlight. The reverse is the case in the southern hemisphere.
Perhaps the most intricate element of viticulture is the vines themselves. The grape species used most commonly to make wines is called Vitis vinifera. These are not the kind of grapes we would typically find to eat in a supermarket. They are tinier, and the juice that comes from them is more concentrated.
Vines are not able to produce grapes until about three or four years after planting, and after that, they can be productive for 25 to 30 years. You can find 100-year-old vines in some places in the world that still produce only one or two bunches each harvest. Some say that the most ancient vine in the world still grows in Maribor, Slovenia,
Once they are prepared to start production, the viticulturist must determine how exactly they intend to grow their vines. Annually, in winter, grape growers prune and shape the vines to boost growth.
In the course of the season, viticulturists must choose how many leaves to cut back so the grapes can receive enough sunshine. They must also decide whether or not to green harvest any bunches. Green harvesting means snipping off a few bunches to restrict the number of grapes on each vine so the vine can put more of its resources and effort into the remaining fruit. This creates richer and more concentrated juices.
The French term “terroir,” when translated literally, means earth or soil. It represents the esoteric harmony between the people, the grape, the soil, and the climate of the vineyard and how they work together to produce the best results in the wine.