From Vine to Wine
The next time you pour a glass of Merlot or Chardonnay to enjoy with a meal or with friends, why not take a moment to consider the journey this favoured drink followed, to go from vine to grape to wine?
A grape’s journey from vine to wine begins as the grape plant awakens from its winter slumber. The first signs of life are tiny buds that swell on the vine; this is the sign that primary shoots will soon emerge and the growth cycle will begin.
The shoots grow using the reserved carbohydrates stored in the vine’s roots for energy, and soon the first signs of green emerge and the vine enters its active state. Little leaves form and photosynthesis begins in earnest as the entire winery watches in anticipation.
A couple of months after the buds break through, small flowers develop on the vine. These flowers will eventually develop a seed protected by a grape berry. This stage is called fruit set. Now, and for the next few months, winemakers will monitor the weather carefully, especially during the critical harvest period, as it will have an enormous impact on the quality of the vintage.
The berries continue to grow larger. During a stage called veraison the berries begin to acquire their pigment, or colour. Now the grapes have reached a critical stage, from this point forward they will rapidly develop the sugars needed to convert the sweet grape juice into alcohol. A story is unfolding in the grape, about its origins, the season, and how much care the vineyard manager has taken to ensure it achieves its optimal ripeness and flavour – it’s a story that will ultimately play out in your glass.
As harvest time approaches, the winemaker makes regular visits to the vineyard to determine the exact moment the grape has the optimal flavour and balance of sugar and acids. It is only then that the grapes are pulled off the vine, transported to the winery, and crushed and pressed, or simply pressed in the case of white wines. Yeast is added and the process of fermentation begins. The wine is then aged in stainless steel or oak barrels, depending on the winemaker’s recipe, and eventually transferred into bottles as a finished wine.
So while you’re enjoying the aromas and flavour of your favorite glass of wine, pause for a moment to consider all that has happened on the journey from vine to wine to influence its taste. It’s a story that might just make you appreciate the vintage even more!