While it can be challenging to bluff your way around the world of wine, it would be nearly impossible if you don’t know the basics. POP QUIZ! What is the difference between a winery and a vineyard? Should be pretty simple right? They aren’t actually the same thing, and there can be some confusion around the answer to this question. Let’s break down the difference to finally clear the air.
A winery is a place where wine is made. It can operate independently of a vineyard. It is a licensed building where the grapes are processed, leaves and stems are removed, and grapes crushed, and also where the fermenting and aging processes take place. Wine, after the appropriate period of time, is then bottled and shipped from the winery for us to purchase and enjoy. Or just enjoy, if you’re lucky and someone else is shouting.
As they go hand in hand, it’s quite common for a winery and a vineyard to share the same location and be run by the same people, but there are many cases where they are run entirely separately. Examples of this are small family-owned vineyards which ship their grapes out to larger wineries for processing. There are wineries in the world that grow their own grapes and also import grapes to produce their wine. A huge number of wineries also have restaurants, tasting rooms and wine tours explaining how the wine making process works for all the public to enjoy.
A vineyard on the other hand is a plantation - simply put, as the word suggests, a ‘yard’ where grapevines are grown. Grapes ripen on the vine here to produce the delicious wine we all enjoy and love! Vineyards can be small with a few hectares, or they can be huge with hundreds of hectares, stretching out as far as the eye can see. In a vineyard, grapes are only ever grown for the sole purpose of creating wine, with many grapes only able to be grown in certain regions and climates. Grape growers may choose to sell their grapes to other wineries to be used in different bottles of wine, or alternatively, they can take their grapes to licensed wineries and use their equipment and facilities to bottle their own drops. This saves them quite a large amount of money and time, removing the need for them to own winemaking facilities of their own to both make and store the wine. With a specialised product like wine, every professional tends to be an expert in their own field - so in most cases the people responsible for growing the grapes are not the same people who create or blend the wine.
It’s pretty straightforward: a wine cellar is where wine is stored and aged before sale. They can be anything from simple warehouses that are temperature controlled, or as fancy as a room dug into the earth that is naturally cooled, like a cave. Wine cellars protect the wine from potentially harmful external influences, providing darkness, constant temperatures and constant humidity. Left exposed to heat, light, vibration or changing in temperatures and humidity, all types of wine can spoil. When stored correctly, wines maintain their quality and actually improve in aroma, flavour and complexity as they mature.
So there you have it! No need to worry about not sounding like you don’t know your stuff when it comes to visiting a winery (or a vineyard) near you.
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