When you harvest grapes once a year, you get a small window of time to make all your hard work and a growing season into a delicious wine. That seems challenging from the outside, but on the inside of the wine business this is a journey of small steps taken every year to create a better product. It is an extreme scenario to say that grapes arrive at the winery the same way every vintage, and learning how to react to the changes each vintage presents require a little research. In what could be considered a high stakes arena, “experimenting” with your raw materials doesn’t sound like a wholesome business strategy.
In the modern era of the wine industry (1970-Present), winemaking went from a rustic tradition to a powerhouse of technical advancement. As wine quality increased, sales increased and investment in the operation of the winery increased to keep pushing the envelope. Research colleges and institutions have contributed generous amounts of money and time to parallel the private industry efforts. North Carolina has finally had the incentive to break ground on the first of its kind in vineyard, winery, and business research to support the efforts of the State’s wine industry.
The North Carolina Winegrowers Association has opened a research fund that will promote the development of in-depth local knowledge related to the key challenges seen in the state’s wine industry. In the 2023-2024 research cycle, I have volunteered to study two topics that affect the sustainability of wines and vines. When the research cycle is concluded, the data from our testing will be presented to the North Carolina Association for use by our fellow colleagues. Experimenting with the raw materials just became an incentive to reach new heights!
The wine and vine trivia answer is 3 years. The “first crop” is always lighter than aged vines and ripens earlier than a mature vine. Wine and vine trivia for next issue: In order for a fermented beverage to be considered wine, what alcohol content must it contain?