Alcohol

Wine 101: Started From the Bottom Now We Fermented

At the end of the day, winemakers who have found a place rubbing elbows with kings and rappers are still farmers. They depend on the soil and the climate to survive. In light of that, today’s lesson is all about teaching your ignorant asses about growing shit.

A viticulturist (the person who grows the grapes) can’t decide to buy acreage anywhere, plant any types of vines and come away with a great grape that will eventually be turned into a great wine. Think about it like this: if you want to grow some dankass smokable herb, you can’t do it anywhere. Same same, no different. Wine is the result of a perfect culmination of soil, climate and grapes. If any of these factors are even just a little bit off, the resulte is catastrophic.

Think of the soil, climate and grape as three members of a family: partner, partner and child.
We’re saying “partner” because it’s 2017 and we’re already under the microscope for saying enough offensive shit.

  • Soil is the partner who is the soul of the family
  • Climate is the partner who makes the decisions
  • The grape is a child caught in the middle. The child is torn between two defining factors and there is big question mark of what the result will be. Sometimes it is a beautiful symbiotic relationship and sometimes it becomes a rotten custody battle.
Soil:  Soil is the soul of wine. We all made it through 6th grade science and learned that plants are created by photosynthesis, so therefore we can understand the importance of soil in any type of plant. As we mentioned, you can’t plant grapes just anywhere so the viticulturist must match the right type of soil with the right type of vine. Even within something as seemingly elemental as soil, there are multiple factors that must be accounted for.
  • Soil particle size that will lead to water drainage or retention
  • The right color in order to reflect or retain heat
  • The organic materials and minerals that contribute to the nutrition of the vine

The only problem is that there’s no absolute proof that specific types of soil will yield specific types of flavors in a wine.

Climate: Climate is an overarching term that covers sun, wind and water in all its forms. Grapes do best in temperate climates (state schoolers; this means somewhere that it doesn’t get too cold or too hot and temperature doesn’t vary too much.)
  • Sun: It’s a double edged sword for grapes. Too much sun and grapes will shrivel from lack of water or over ripen and become too sweet for pressing into wine aka vinification. Too little sun and the grapes will remain unripe and have high acid levels. A swing too far in either direction and the viticulturists is fucked.
  • Wind: Like oral sex, blowing too hard makes it impossible to grow and blowing too soft creates problems of it’s own. Although a light wind is needed for circulation, winds blowing too hard will make growing difficult for vines and if winds are cold coming off a body of water, growth will be stunted. Too much or not enough and the viticulturist is fucked.
  • Water: Moistness is the essence of wetness and wetness is the essence of beauty. Too much, too little, too hard, too soft. It has to be perfect or the vintners can’t make their wine and you can’t drink it.
           
Grapes: The love child of the two previously mentioned factors. Either a pregnant train wreck or valedictorian headed to Harvard. It’s pretty simple with grapes. Some grape varietals do well in some climates where others do not. Grape varietals like sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon or zinfandel do well in warmer climates. Whereas, grape varietals like pinot noir and riesling do better in cooler regions. And a grape like chardonnay is versatile and can do well in almost any climate. If you haven’t gotten it through your thick head yet, it’s all super variable and that’s why wine is so fascinating. Like Cyndi, 23, Librarian, you never know what’s going to happen so you might as well send it and find out.
*Special thank you to Seed Wines for your contributions and support.

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