Mysterious musical wines: the grapes that like Mozart

Mysterious musical wines: the grapes that like Mozart

April 17, 2018

The best part about this blog is that we’re not kidding: there really are people, professional wine growers from the world over, who play music to their grapes. Although not grounded in science, there are several people who swear that the grapes grow juicier and sweeter, if you serenade them with a bit of Beethoven. Seriously.

We thought this was not only strange, but perhaps too good to be true. Being fans of the unusual here at Bottle Service, particularly when it comes to our favourite grape beverage, we thought we’d do a bit of digging to find out more about this very interesting vineyard practice.

Who are these musical winemakers?

According to many people, including Britain’s Prince Charles, plants do actually ‘react’ to noises. Prince Charles speaks to his plants to ‘encourage their growth’, and farmers around the world have serenaded everything from cows to pigs, in an attempt to improve quality and production.

This line of thinking is taken one step further with various winemakers around the world:

  • A South African vineyard plays baroque and classical music to all of its vines, day and night, all year round. After harvesting the grapes, the maturing wine gets the same treatment in the cellar.
  • A vineyard in British Columbia in Canada has installed speakers, which plays classical music to their estate-grown grapes as they grow. During the cellaring process, the wine hears operas composed by Verdi, Mozart, Rossini, and others, with each type of wine hearing something different.
  • In Italy, a Tuscan winery has been playing classical music through loudspeakers around their vineyards for nearly 20 years, and lists Mozart and Tchaikovsky as regular playlist features.
  • Also in Europe, an Austrian inventor has taken the concept a little further still, and has invented a special speaker. This speaker exposes fermenting grape juice to classical, jazz or even electronic tunes.

So, what are these claims?  

The specifics vary from vineyard to vineyard, but most devotees of the musical winemaking method claim that it has a profound difference on both the growth of the grapes and the quality of the resulting wines. The difference the music makes in South Africa is represented through a slower and ‘more regulated’ growth pattern on the vine. Interestingly, they trialled the musical madness in a block of four hectares, out of a toal 55 hectares under vine, and it produces a significantly different Syrah, lower in alcohol, than on the rest of the property.

In Italy, however, there’s a contradiction to these claims. The Italian winemaker confirms that the grape bunches near the music grow faster than others not exposed - maturing in 10 to 14 days, instead of the normal 20. The faster the grapes grow, the higher the alcohol content. Although he’s not sure exactly why it works, he claims that the music causes stronger, more resilient grapes to grow, and scares off animals who feed on young grapevines, and deters parasites, mould and bacteria.

Are they crazy?

There is some debate as to whether this is in fact, crazy talk. Although the claims of sound waves producing vibrations that affect vine and fruit growth probably have some merit, the notion that it could affect the alcoholic content or taste of the end product is probably one for the conspiracy theorists! The University of Florence is reportedly looking into the Italian vineyard to test the claims, and will grow control vines in comparative silence to those being played Mozart and friends.

One thing is for sure though, more research needs to be done. We’re happy to help taste test, of course… :)


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