Wine Making
Ancient Art, Modern Science and Global Business

Wine making has been carried out for thousands of years in some form. Pottery discovered in Persia or present-day Iran, dated at 5,500 BC shows evidence of grape use for winemaking. Researchers in Jiahu, China have found jars containing wine from wild grapes that dates back to between 6,000 and 7,000 BC.

Whether ancient or modern, wine making requires much of the same conditions and required similar techniques to make it. The chemistry of the grape vine is eternal.

Generally wine grapes grow in bands defined by latitudes 30-50 degrees north and 30-45 degrees south of the equator. Grapes do not require fertile soil like most other crops. The thin soil restricts the quantity of the crop and ensures that fewer grapes are produced. Those that are produced are of a much higher quality.

Soils that are too rich in nitrogen or other nutrients, which are highly beneficial to most plants, can produce grapes that are not suited for winemaking. They work well for eating, but lack the desired quantities of minerals, sugars and acids required for winemaking.

Great wines are produced from soil that would be considered very poor quality for other agricultural purposes. The stellar wines from Bordeaux are made from grapes grown in a gravelly soil that sits atop a base of clay or chalk. Fewer grapes are produced but the ones that are have very high quality. The pebbly soil allows for excellent drainage which allows the plant to take in enough water but ensures that its roots are not sitting in water soaked soil. The further down the roots grow the more complex minerals absorbed.

River valleys with slopes that provide abundant sunshine are the home of most vineyards. Vines grown in these areas are often European varieties such as vitis vinifera, which are used to make many common wines such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

Viticulture or the practice of growing grapes for wine is one of the most complex agricultural undertakings today. A master vintner or oenologist must be highly knowledgeable in soil chemistry and fermentation along with climatology and several other ancient arts and modern sciences.

Not only are the products of the vines classified by variety but they are also classified by vinification methods such as; sparkling, still, fortified, rose, and blush. They can also be classified by region such as; Bordeaux, Burgundy and Alsace and also by vintage, as well as a number of other methods.

After the farmer chemist and manufacturer have done their part the businessman takes over. 595 million gallons of wine were sold in the U. S. in 2002, representing over $20 billion in consumer spending. France was in the lead with 22% of the export volume, with Italy a close 20% behind.

Wine producers must possess a sensitive nose and palette and also balance dozens of time-sensitive factors such as when to harvest, how long to ferment and age, and when to bottle the wine. This all comes before considering modern manufacturing and marketing requirements, not to mention legal restrictions.

Winemaking is an art, science and business that is definitely not for the timid.

Swirl the wine gently, sniff and taste.

Sip of Wine

  Cooked or Corked?
  Home Winemakers
  Wine Aging Table
  Wine and Cheese
  Wine and Health
  Wine Grading
  Wine Making
  Wine Storage

Wine Regions

  British Columbia, Canada
  Northern California
  Southern California
  Cotes Du Rhone
  New York

Copyright 2006 by OddSource