The English language is confusing enough without variations of words that seem to mean the same thing but don’t.
As we are embarking on our journey to become a licensed Small Wine Maker on our farm, we hear different comments. The most frequent is – “Where are your grapes?” Wine without grapes was covered a few blog posts ago – Wine Gone Country. Today, we’ll attempt to clear up the confusion between some of these other wine terms.
A vineyard is an expanse of land that grows grapes. These grapes may be used for wine, but vineyards can also grow grapes for grapes for raisins, non-alcoholic grape juice, or plain old eating. It’s the type of grapes that determines what it is grown for.
Many of the wines that we enjoy are named after the grapes that are used to make them – Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape used to make white wine; Riesling is a white grape that can be used to make white and sparkling white wines.
Chablis is made from chardonnay grapes in the Chablis region of in France; champagne also uses the chardonnay grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. Each variation has a different taste based on the soil is was grown in as well as the method of fermentation.
Yield per acre
Because of the picture that we see of vineyards, we have been led to believe that a vineyard must have a lot of good, land to make it worthwhile. This is not true.
The saying “the worst the soil, the better the wine” is true. Many vineyards are in areas that are unsuitable for other agricultural products. But, this doesn’t mean that there is no or low yield. Vineyards, on average, produce 2 to 10 tons of grapes per acre! Here’s the math – one ton of grapes can produce 60 cases or 720 bottles of wine. So even in the poorest soil, an acre of grape vines can produce about 1,440 bottles of wine!
A winery is a building or business that produces wine. A winery may be associated and/or be part of a vineyard, but that is not always true. Many wineries want to focus on the production of the wine and not have to worry about growing the grapes.
Wine making locations
In addition to the well-known European winemaking regions, Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley in California, New York’s Finger Lakes, and certain areas in the northern part of Michigan, like Traverse City, are known for their grapes, vineyards, and wineries.
But, a winery doesn’t have to be adjacent to or even near a vineyard. The grapes can be shipped anywhere and some wineries use different fruits and plants to make their wines. Wine can be made out of almost any fruit, select vegetables, and some flowers – like dandelions and lilac blossoms.
Farm, Micro, and Urban wineries
Wineries can be located almost anywhere. Farm wineries use the produce from their farm or other local farmers, micro-wineries are similar to micro-breweries where the amount of wine produced is limited, but often varied. Urban wineries have been sprouting out like micro-breweries in major cities around the country. The ability to make wine anywhere give the public the opportunity to try new and different flavors without having to travel far.
A vintner is a winemaker. Being a winemaker can be an occupation for a person, or it can pertain to a winery that produces custom wines for others. There are some “wineries” that do not actually make their own wine, but hire another winery (vintner) to make a select number of flavors and put a label on the wine for that particular winery.
No matter where the fruit is grown, where it’s produced, or where it is consumed, wines have become a very popular drink over the past few years.