Articles tagged with: wine almanac

The Wine Almanac – February

california vineyardsThe Wine Almanac – February

February is a month when wines may well be treated. They have been in existence for some four months and as wine is subject to all sorts of chemical change, it does need a little help to stay enjoyable on the palate. Our ancestors knew only too well how appalling table wine could taste when left to nature, hence the fashion in preceding centuries for either very sweet wines high in alcohol or spirits which were unlikely to alter once bottled.

In the vineyards, pruning may continue as the weather is normally still very wintery. Grafted vines are planted out to make new areas. As a rule, vines are at the most fruitful about eight to fifteen years after planting, and gradually the yield per vine will diminish.

When a vine is in ‘good health’ it grows vigorously, responds to pruning by flowering abundantly and producing plenty of fruit and not too many leaves, and stay lush and healthy during its annual cycle. In February or march many vineyards are fertilized either with artificial compounds or with stable manure, although in some areas such as Provence and the Napa Valley of California there are ’organic’ winemakers who only use grapes treated with naturally-occurring compounds. For instance, one way of nourishing the roots of the vines naturally is to grow high-nitrogen plants, such as mustard, between the rows and then plough these into the soil. When an entire livelihood may be wiped out by sudden frosts or disease, every precaution must be taken.

Although there are few official festivals in February in wine regions, this is a month for the wine lover to experience great fun at city wine festivals such the annual and popular Vancouver Wine Festival in British Columbia. Then there is the Carnival in summertime Rio de Janeiro, or Mardi Gras in New Orleans…although neither is strictly speaking at the heart of a wine region.



Wine Almanac – October

002 (3)October, a season of fruitfulness. Deciding when to pick the grapes can be a nail-biting time. For high quality wine, great amount of good may come from leaving the grapes on the vine for just that week or so longer than your neighbour winery. If the weather holds, not only more sweetness but also more concentration of flavour may result. If the aim is to produce an everyday wine with fruity taste then it is probably not worth the extra anxiety involved in waiting for the ultimate picking time. Keeping the grape-pickers standing by can be a costly business and they may work with another winery on just that day or the communal grape-picking machine is in use somewhere else. Few wineries can afford the luxury of their own machine-harvester. A day’s delay, a thunderstorm and… no quality wine to sell at a higher price to pay the bills.

The family owned vineyard with all the wine produced on the spot is fast becoming harder to find. Thousands of grape growers are opting to concentrate on viticulture and leave the vinification (wine making) to someone else. Those family ventures which do thrive are based on enormously hard work, passion for the industry, and a devotion to modern methods for maximum quality and hopefully sales. Often behind the old cellars and barns there are likely a computer and modern equipment to help keep ahead of the competition. Such is the state of family ventures of a sufficient size to sell to restaurants and retail stores. Many are smaller family winery which tends to aim for self-sufficient rather than for big profit, producing enough wine to meet the family’s needs and the goods they need.

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During the fall season, many wineries stay open on weekends. Organize a friend get-together wine tasting.