Enjoying wine with friends is the final pleasure in the wine making process. This said, for those of us who make wine, the hard work and focus on producing the very finest quality also have their own rewards.The following pages look behind the scenes at the preparation and operations required to get wine to the table and hopes that the material presented here enhances your enjoyment of wine. The following pages investigate how grapes are grown and how wine is made and includes topics like vineyard site selection, vineyard operations, winery and cellar design, winemaking, aging and cellaring wines, tasting wine and various other topics related to this noble pursuit. The business topics are for those wanting to learn more about the financial aspects of wine growing, however, if you too have a desire to learn more about the machinations of an exciting and absorbing industryread on. The old adage that "a wine's quality comes from the vineyard" is very true. Grape quality is the single most important factor affecting wine quality. Growing grapes follows an annual vineyard cycle that begins in winter and ends in autumn with harvest. During the winter months the vines are dormant and this is when pruning occurs. Winter pruning determines the form and size of the vines and the quantity of fruit produced. Come spring, the new shoots grow, the vine "flowers" and produces tiny pea size berries that increase in size, and finally at the end of the season, ripen and are harvested. This process takes approximately seven months and requires careful guidance to ensure the grapes harvested are of the highest quality.
Well before any wine is produced, work is required to choose an appropriate site and to ensure that the design is correct. Site selection is critical and (depending on region) is likely to have a significant impact on the quality of the fruit produced. Once an appropriate site has been selected establishment can begin. Positioning and orientating the vines correctly, using appropriate trellising and irrigation (and frost fighting) systems, considering access and amenity requirements and natural aesthetics to enhance the visual appeal are all part of good vineyard design.
The planning process is the next step in vineyard development and good preparation will save time and money. Like any project, many people underestimate time required to undertake to job and if you consider yourself "time poor" then this is best left to a project manager.
Now that you understand the importance of the vineyard in producing quality wine let's move on to winemaking and find out how grapes are "transformed" into wine.