You may have heard the phrase “great wine starts in the vineyard”. Have you ever really thought about what that means? The Swan Creek Wine Trail takes great pride in the grapes we grow. We have first-hand experience in growing excellent grapes and we know that the secret to good wine is great grapes. In this post, we’ll highlight a few important factors into growing great grapes.
What Makes a Great Grape?
Throughout the growing season, there are several critical times that help shape the season to come. Grape vines start growing as winter fades and the weather warms up. Bud Break is the first milestone of the season. If the tender parts of the vine are interrupted during this phase, it can be disastrous for the rest of the year. Next is Flowering and Fruit Set. As you can guess, this is when the vines produce flowers which eventually become grapes.
After the grapes develop, they hang on the vines absorbing sunlight and nutrients. They eventually change colors. This process is called Verasion. Here, sugars start to develop and acid levels drop to a normal range. The grapes will hang on the vine until they are fully ripe.
Caring for Grapes
Throughout the growing season, vineyard workers take great care of the vines helping to direct energies and nutrients into the grapes. Pruning, hedging, and leaf thinning are activities that help the grapes grow and ripen. Another key activity is keeping pests and diseases at bay. Birds are a particular issue. Although they do keep bugs out, some birds like to eat grapes more. Protecting the grapes from the birds usually involves wrapping the vines in netting. It’s also important to keep the grapes nice and dry to prevent mold and mildew from forming.
Picking the right time to harvest is critical as grapes don’t ripen after they’re removed from the vines. Finding the right balance between sweetness and acidity is crucial. The natural sugars in the wine ferment into alcohol and the acidity helps to make a wine flavorful and bright. Want to learn more about harvest? Stay tuned for our next post to learn more or come visit our vineyards!