Much of the winemaking process starts before the grapes arrive at the winery. A grape, and the resulting wine, can be shaped by the care it receives, the location it’s planted in and time it spends on the vine, along with many other factors.
Since wine grapes are influenced by their surroundings, California growers play an integral part in making sure the state’s wines have complexity and exceptional flavor.
Meteorological conditions, such as rainfall, temperature and wind, which exist in a particular region.
Climate – A vineyard’s climate plays a significant role in the winegrowing process and has a profound affect on a vineyard’s seasonal activity each year. Temperature acts like a symphony’s conductor, telling the vines when to go dormant, bud, flower, produce grape clusters and ripen fruit.
Microclimates can be influenced by nearby hills and mountains, the ocean or large bodies of water, slope of the land, altitude, and clouds, fog, wind, sun, and precipitation – each of which has its own unique influence on the wine grapes. For example, bodies of water can cool a warm vineyard, hillsides can cause frost or cold air to collect in valleys, or mountains can force clouds to rain on one side, while keeping the other side dry.
Sunlight is also a great influencer, as too much sunlight can scorch grapes, turning them to raisins; too little sunlight and the grapes won’t ripen. The wine-grape growers must strike a delicate balance of all of these elements to ensure the survival and quality of the grapes.
Soil – All agricultural endeavors need proper soil, but when growing wine grapes, fertile soil isn’t always the best. In fact, most California vineyards are planted on land that wouldn’t support other crops. Finding soil that drains water well is of the utmost importance. Well-draining soil forces vines to extend their roots far into the dirt to find water and nutrients, creating a level of “stress” in the grapevines and forcing them to focus energy and sugar into grape clusters instead of leaves, thereby giving the grapes superior concentration.