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15 Sep On a Wine Country Tour from a Vintner’s View

A Wine Country Tour exposes us to Wine-making

Before your wine tour, you may not know that wine-making is an ancient craft, seriously begun before any historical records were kept in a part of the world that has our attention even today. . . yes, the mid-east.  Although China “brewed” the first wine almost 7,000 years ago, it wasn’t the serious undertaking it became in ancient Babylon and subsequently Rome.  We get a close look at the process with a visit to one of California’s renowned wineries, courtesy of a Wine Country Tour from San Francisco.

Today's Vintner

The modern version of the craft is performed by individuals who have a passion for process—for the excitement that grows with each year the bottle sleeps and dreams its way toward the day when its contents are allowed to meet the air for the first time. Of course there is the mid-process opportunity, when the wine leaves the barrel for the bottle. You can bet not only tasting, but color and aroma checking is going on then. And these guys know, with the smallest of sips, whether there’s a jewel in the making or a major unexpected turn has occurred and steps will need to be taken (like a foray into the cooking wine business)—a process few of us would have the patience to endure, nor the all-in attitude to sustain. Think about the Wine Country Tour as an exciting introduction to the vintner’s experience.

The Sciences

From the winemaker we learn there are two disciplines involved in wine-making:  viticulture—the art and science of growing the grapes and enology—the science and art of making wine.

From the top of a mountain he can see the land—and the grapes—almost hear them growing—and looks toward the harvest in a few weeks. Both soil and grapes have been carefully tended while the grapes reach maturity. Interesting to note that between 400 and 1450 feet above sea level, “blocks” of land, depending on elevation, will each produce something unique. One vintner can count 135 separate blocks across his 226 acres.

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Vertical gobelet on Wine Country Tour

Head pruning, or ” vertical gobelet” (shown here) is the current method of pruning, but actually dates back to ancient Rome.  With the vine’s “head” low and the 4 arms pruned to 2-bud spurs, a typical v.g. pruning allows correct exposure to the elements as the grapes appear and grow.  While you’re driving through the hills on your wine country tour from San Francisco, see if you can spot this vine treatment—perhaps stopping to photograph some great examples.

The Art
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Vertical gobelet on Wine Country Tour

The Cabernet Sauvignon, recognized by even the most novice of wine enthusiasts, is produced from the luscious, velvety grape seen here. No matter where it has its roots, this variety shows a remarkable strength of character when it’s been pressed into barrels and allowed to ferment. With each block producing something grand, the vintner’s blood rushes to his head—once again contemplating what the new “design” will be.

The strength, it seems, is the challenge for the vintner

The Cabernet Sauvignon, recognized by even the most novice of wine enthusiasts, is produced from the luscious, velvety grape seen here. No matter where it has its roots, this variety shows a remarkable strength of character when it’s been pressed into barrels and allowed to ferment. With each block producing something grand, the vintner’s blood rushes to his head—once again contemplating what the new “design” will be.

The color is rich with depth, the texture is milky, not creamy. With these qualities achievedImage 3 – Winemaking and a new taste experience attained, the vintner has succeeded in creating a wine he can offer as an original work of art to those who know how to judge wine and, ultimately with pride, to his wine country tour connoisseur guests

June 25, 2014, the Daily Meal named Ridge Valley
the best winery in America.