Browse Month by September 2017

What Makes a Good Vineyard

Let’s step back for a moment, and talk about the dynamics of a vineyard itself. Literally, from the ground up; soil is the most important component in a vineyard. Many want to be wine connoisseurs look at property development as far as landscape, accessibility, and price. One factor they often neglect is the quality of the soil. Most people take it for granted that soil in undeveloped areas is perfectly healthy. But that is not always the case. You will want to have someone from the Department of Agriculture come out and test your soil. Government agencies are a great source of services because they are unbiased and have no reason not to tell you the truth. Whereas a paid consultant, may color the results to receive your approval.

Another important aspect of soil analysis, is its water solubility. How well does it absorb water and how long does it retain that water. This will play an important factor when you are developing your irrigation system. Fine wine grapes require the proper amount of hydration so you want to make sure you set everything up perfectly. Once you know the soil is right for your purposes, you will want to develop an area for composting to keep your soil rich and nutritious for years to come.

vineyard irrigation

Similar to the subject of soil management, is proper pesticide use. Most new farmers are quick to jump at the cheaper chemicals without doing the proper research to understand their impact to the soil and plants. Natural pesticides and techniques are more expensive, but the quality of your crop is of the upmost importance. You do not want to produce a wine that has toxins or chemical byproducts transferring into the bottle. Even trace amounts can diminish the taste and the integrity of your brand.

Support plants are critical to the overall health of your farm. While many new growers have a tendency to tear out anything that is not a grape plant, that is a mistake. You want to have areas of regular plant life growing all throughout your vineyard. First of all, it brings in a large number of insects that will help keep the soil healthy and nutrient rich. As well as bring in a number of insect predators who will keep the harmful bugs at bay. They will literally naturally kill off all of the harmful bugs that could come to your vines. They will be welcome guests at your home.

The next post we’ll talk more about construction variations that go into a vineyard. But I just wanted to touch on a subject that many new buyers overlook. The soil is first and foremost critical to the overall health of your organization. Many are dazzled by the scenery, and the promise of healthy plants, but surprisingly overlook the nature of the ground itself.

Wine Tours

African Vineyards

south africa beaches

When most people think about traveling to Africa, they think about going on safari. Or, lounging on the white sand beaches soaking up the sun. It’s not the kind of place that people really think about when they think “fine wines”. With all the culture of the Pyramids in the groups of people that have made that continent famous, not many people come for the vineyards. Which is good if you’re connoisseur. If you go join the right time of the year there is practically no traffic, and you have all of the fantastic wine country to yourself.

One of the best places to visit first is Table Mountain. Nestled in nearby Cape Town, it has all the splendid beauty of the beaches and forests which make for a very romantic hideaway. The vineyards here are very old compared to some of the more modern layouts of the West. The history here is fascinating and there’s so much to learn in one visit through the fields. They keep with some of the more traditional equipment, shying away from more modern technology to hold onto their rustic heritage.

Table Mountain

One of the most amazing routes to take is through Wellington. This trip offers some of the best wine tasting you will ever come across. They pride themselves with sharing their crop with as many visitors as they can get. After the tasting is done for the day, they put out a huge spread of food for all who wish to stay and visit with the families that work there. It not only offers a chance to sample many fine wines, but gives visitors a feel of the people behind every vintage that goes into a bottle.

Even though many of these older farms fight to hold onto their tradition, they are slowly being forced to modernize in the name of health and safety. Much of the older equipment is faulty, and the materials in the vats are being found to create large amounts of mold which damages the wine. The wine farms of Stellenbosch are some of the first to bring builders and machinists on site to help improve their process. While the beautiful vintage wineries of South Africa are splendid to visit, they must keep up with the times to some extent to remain competitive in the market.

Wine Making

Brief History of Wine Making

Brief History of Wine Making

Ancient History

The consumption of wine dates back thousands of years, with an archaeological dig uncovering a winery in Armenia from around 4000 B.C! Of course, wine is also consumed religiously, especially as part of the Eucharist in memory of The Last Supper. The Greeks also celebrated wine production in the form of the god Dionysus. The concept of fermentation and preservation existed back then, and pine resin was used to protect and prolong the life of wine. This is now known as “retsina”, and is still commercially produced in Greece.

Mediaeval Times

Wine production flourished in Lebanon during medieval times, as it did in Southern European regions, especially France. As it was so commonplace, it was a drink enjoyed by people of all classes. However, the weather in the North, as today, was not as conducive to winemaking. Back then though, transport was infinitely less-developed, meaning that wine was only drunk by the upper classes in the North of Europe. However, it was also the first time that wine could be produced in England, as water treatment had developed to the point where the water was drinkable. Monks It was during this time that a large amount of wine production was taken on by Benedictine and Cistercian monks. Monks acquired a lot of fertile land and produced food and drink not only to be sustainable, but also to attract more monks to their land and to be able to offer exceptional hospitality. Mead production was also far more widespread, as it just involved adding honey to the wine.  Here is a look at wine in medieval times and what it tasted like.

The Game Changes

As transport links were established in the 18th and 19th centuries, wine regions in France in particular were able to export their wines to Spain, Portugal and the UK as well as further afield. Wineries were privatised, and a range of laws relating to production, usage of regional names and grape quality certification were established, turning wine production in to big business. Across the Atlantic, the California Gold Rush brought huge economic growth to the United States, but also vines from around the world – most notably the Croatian Zinfandel grape. In South America, the Spanish conquistadors brought winemaking with them, and the weather and soil proved to be exceptional for wine production.

Modern Times

Nowadays, vines have been transported all over the world, largely meaning that the origin of a grape is unimportant. Malbec, a grape from France, is probably most famous in Argentina. The aforementioned Zinfandel is associated with California, and the Syrah grape, also known as Shiraz, is associated with South Africa and Australia amongst other countries. Wine is imported and exported all over the world, but the majority still comes from France, where the monks first settled. Wine production is currently worth an estimated 12 billion Euros a year to France!