Year Cycle of Seasons in a Vineyard



You decide for dinner you'll have eggplant parmesan, and grab a bottle of Chianti from your wine rack to go along with it. The wine is excellent, and you congratulate yourself on having chosen well at the wine shop. What was involved at the vineyard to bring you this wine? What goes into running a vineyard for a year? For a vineyard, the year starts with winter.

winter

Winter

begins around November in the northern hemisphere, after harvest is complete. To prepare for the coming cold weather, manure is placed along their base and the vines are pruned back rather severely.


The vine will go dormant, but the root and the bark can only support the vine for a limited amount of time. The vine can't be too thick - this would be too much plant to last over a winter on the stores of food it contains. A too thin vine will freeze through.

spring

Spring

is when activity begins at the vineyard. The vines are pruned yet again, to ensure they're in proper position for spring growing. Vine growing is very carefully watched.


Too many grapes, and the grapes are small and tasteless. The vine suffers because the grapes are sapping its nutrients. Too few grapes, and you can't make enough wine - meanwhile the vine now grows out of control.


Baby Chardonnay grapes at Greenvale Vineyards

In April the buds begin to break through, and the vineyard manager stays on the guard against a late frost, bugs, and the like. Young shoots are cared for, weeds are removed.

summer

Summer

is the season most people are familiar with. The grapes growing large on the vines, the tourists trouping through the tasting area, sampling the various wines from the previous years.


There are usually 10-14 days of flowering, then the shoots are tied down to the guide wires. They are tended as they grow, and as the grapes come in, leaves around them are pruned to allow the most sun to reach the grapes.

Westport River Chardonnay Grapes
Adolescent Chardonnay grapes at Westport Rivers

If there are too many grapes, sometimes even grapes themselves must be pruned, to ensure that the ones remaining are as healthy as possible. Pests and weeds are watched for and removed. Some vineyards use pepper and garlic to ward off bugs! As summer wears on and the grapes grow larger, birds become a huge problem. Nets, whirleygigs and noisemakers are employed to keep them at bay.

fall

Fall

is harvest season. Every day, the winemaker goes out to measure the sugar levels of the grapes, to determine exactly when they will be in balance. At that point, usually in the morning, the grapes are speedily harvested either by hand or machine.


The grapes are brought in to the winery, where they are washed and, depending on the grape type and the purpose of the grape, sent through the various processes that turn them into wine. Meanwhile, the vines are done with their year, and soon the vineyard manager will turn his attention to settling them down for winter.

Grapes of Summer
Winemaking Main Page



All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.