Wed, Feb 22, 2012 10:43 AM
Making wine is a little like predicting the future. It takes
years for the vines to mature and bear fruit after planting. And
once the wine is made and the vintage completed, that's it!
Whatever the harvest, however many bottles, whatever happens, there
is no making more, and there is no re-doing it. If demand exceeds
production, little can be done to satisfy those looking for more.
If production exceeds demand, the winery has trouble selling its
wine, looses necessary revenue, and may have to lower prices
starting a downward spiral that may ultimately dooms it's
For the winemaker once the juice is in the barrel, the quantity is
concluded, the quality is predetermined by choice of grape and
weather conditions throughout the year. It's more like steering a
cruise ship. It takes time to change direction.
The wine business is a slow moving process. It takes years for the
vines to mature and generate the grapes expressing the character of
the location and soil (what the French call 'terroir'). It takes
another year or two to actually make the wine from harvesting to
crushing, fermentation, ageing in oak barrels, bottling and ageing
again before releasing the wine to the marketplace.
Vermont's winemakers feeling the pinch of their own success right
now, as yields are relatively slow and demand has overtaken
production. Many turn to buying grapes from out of state, and are
scolded for not making wine exclusively from Vermont-grown grapes.
There is talk about legislation to define the difference between
Vermont-made wine and Vermont-grown grapes.
The winery had to predict all this years ago when planning the
vineyard, purchasing the equipment, and making those immense
investments to get the winery off the ground.
Just to start a little vineyard, you'll need about $7,500 to plant
an acre with grapevines. Then you'll need to sit back and wait some
five years, tending the young plants and hoping Mother Nature plays
If all goes well, you might see enough fruit to make about 3,000
bottles of wines from that acre. Figuring in all the cost of
producing wine, maybe you'll see a couple of bucks profit, but it
takes years to get there.
If you pay attention to the vintage of the wine you purchase, you
will notice that most red wines will be a few years old, the
vintages for now commonly range from 2008 to 2010. If you take
Pinot Noir for example, most that is available now was made in 2008
or 2009, which is actually a little too young for most, but since
the wine world got turned sideways and Pinot Noir became all the
rage, there is too much demand to wait. Older vintages are hard to
find these days. Pinot Noir is actually a very low yielding,
finicky' grape that only grows in special places and is, thus,
rather limited to begin with. It takes a lot of effort these days
to find a matured, good quality Pinot Noir. And by the time the
grape growers can catch up, the demand might have changed direction
If you're looking for a nicely aged wine, look for a Merlot these
days. Since the grape fell out of favor after being all the rage
for years, sales have plummeted, and the wine has been ageing
nicely on the shelves of wine stores and wineries alike. For some
good deals buck the trend and try a Merlot!