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Home Wine Basics Good Grapes - The Key to Good Wine

Good Grapes -  The Key to Good Wine

There aren't many agricultural endeavors that can rival wine making (viticulture). And nothing lets you enjoy a good glass of wine at the end. In order to produce fine wine, you'll need to consider these factors: select the right site to cultivate the grapes, choose the grape variety, prepare the soil, implement some sort of sunlight control, manage the fermentation process, and even choose the right cork.

Wine grapes are cultivated along latitude bands 30 to 50 degrees North and 30 to 45 degrees South of the equator. You'll find the world-famous Bordeaux region within these bands, and also the lesser known New Zealand vineyards.

The terroir plays a big role in producing good wine. Terroir is the term use to refer to a group of vineyards in the same region. These vineyards belong to a specific appellation and they share the same soil type, weather conditions, and grape varieties cultivated.

In order to produce good wine, good grapes must be used. In order to produce good grapes, the right soil and climate should be present. Ironically, the best wines come from grapes that have been grown in poor soil -- basically soil that is not suitable at all for growing other crops.

The world-famous Bordeaux wines come from grapes cultivated in thick, gravelly earth with a clay or chalk base. The Burgundy wines, on the other hand, come from grapes cultivated in granite soil that is acidic and is atop a limestone base.

Good grapes are also the result of just the right weather conditions. Grapes need lots of sunshine, although the best grow in places where the seasonal temperature is around 30F (16.7C). Rainfall, mist, and fog also affect how the grapes will turn out. The vines also need to receive consistent and sufficient amounts of water. If there is too much water, mold and mildew may grow.

Generally in the northern hemisphere, grapes start budding in late March, developing fruit all through the summer. During this time, wine growers make adjustments to the water levels, chemical composition of the soil, and leaf growth in order to expose the plants to more sunlight and encourage the growth of small grape clusters. This is also the time when they control pests and diseases. Grapes are ready to harvest in October.

Many vineyards have started using machines to harvest grapes. However, the majority of wine producers still hire people to manually pick the grapes. The grapes are placed in crusher and fermentation vats, ready to be transformed into great tasting wines.