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Canotila
11-23-2009, 04:20 AM
Does anybody know, or have any idea of where I could find information about traditional wine making and vineyard culture (as in, how the vines are tended throughout the year)?

Working on a fantasy novel, there's a vineyard for part of the setting. The climate is similar to southern California/kind of Mediterranean. The owners of the vineyard keep slaves, and at the moment have a surplus of laborers that they plan to auction off after the bulk of the harvest work is finished. I don't want to look stupid having that point come too soon, or wait too long where they would just be sitting around and twiddling their thumbs.

Specific questions I'm looking for answers to:

When the grapes are harvested, are they stored somewhere for any length of time, or are they immediately processed?

How are they processed? Modern method? Traditional method?

What is the time frame from the point the grapes are picked until the processing is finished?

Cath
11-23-2009, 04:41 AM
Try this site:

http://www.wineeducation.com/year.html

Medievalist
11-23-2009, 05:10 AM
Does anybody know, or have any idea of where I could find information about traditional wine making and vineyard culture (as in, how the vines are tended throughout the year)?

The processing time depends on the grape and the kind of wine. So does vine tending.

If I were you, I'd look into traditional mediterranean style wine making; this was the wine was made right up to the early Renaissance in Italy and most of France. One of the differences is in the way the vines are grown; they're grown much more "tightly" than modern vines, since workers hand pick the grapes so you don't need as much space.

The kind of grape is determined first by climate and soil, and second, by the kind of wine desired.

Here are some good sites:

http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/

http://www.winemaking.com/

There are a lot of wine making hobbyists; I know we've got a couple of them here.

There's a decision point first about when to harvest; this depends on the taste etc. of the grapes and weather expectations.

Longer on the vine; sweeter juice, and potentially more alcohol. Go read about Ice Wine :D

Also, we use carefully controlled yeast cultures; earlier they might try essentially culturing a strain by using a previous wine--but that depends on knowing what yeast is, and how it causes fermentation.

Do Google "ancient roman winemaking" and such.

backslashbaby
11-23-2009, 01:57 PM
If you'd like to speak with owners, I can tell you these folks like to talk about making wine :) I go to most of the wine festivals, and they don't mind questions at all:

http://www.allamericanwineries.com/AAWMain/ResultsNC.htm

The most like Mediterranean wine making would probably be these folks:

The Raffaldini family made a decision to share our centuries-old winemaking experience with the New World. After a long and exhaustive search for land that would reflect this experience, Raffaldini Vineyards was established in the Swan Creek area of the Yadkin Valley. From this vineyard, we handcraft our Italian wines; wines that express not only their “sense of place”, but also utilize winemaking skills that have been refined throughout the ages.

http://www.raffaldini.com/index.aspx

dirtsider
11-23-2009, 04:47 PM
Do you live anywhere near a vineyard? If so, stop by and ask your questions there. Most places have either tours of their vineyard and/or classes of some sort. If not, I"m sure they'd be willing to talk about their work to an interested person. Even if the time period and equipment's different, the basic winemaking isn't, really.

PeterL
11-23-2009, 05:24 PM
Specific questions I'm looking for answers to:

When the grapes are harvested, are they stored somewhere for any length of time, or are they immediately processed?

The grapes would be crushed the same day.

How are they processed? Modern method? Traditional method?

The grapes are crushed such that the juice can flow and the pulp will not hold the juice any more. Whether one uses feet or rollers or a hydraulic press makes little difference, so long as the juice can separate from the pulp.

What is the time frame from the point the grapes are picked until the processing is finished?

The crushing will almost always take place the day the grapes are picked.

Miguelito
11-24-2009, 04:53 AM
Might not help, but for the setting of the vineyard I'd recommend:

A hillside, valleyside, or rolling topography, which promotes surface runoff. If a hillside or valleyside, it should be on the side that gets the most sunlight (south facing in the northern hemisphere).

The soil should be sandy or gravelly, which promotes good drainage.

Why the focus on drainage and runoff? You don't want your vines to have wet feet, ie. you want those roots to stretch deep into the soil, which can't happen if moisture is being trapped shallow in the soil. When those vines get stressed by having to stretch out their root system and by the general lack of moisture (but not too little, obviously), the sugar in the grapes gets concentrated.

Canotila
11-24-2009, 02:36 PM
Thank you so much everyone! Your comments and links have been invaluable!

Unfortunately there aren't any vineyards within 150 miles of where I live. If I can get further south, I might be able to coordinate a trip to a winery. That is a good idea. All of your advice and reading material will give me a chance to come up with some educated questions!

BillPatt
12-10-2009, 01:06 PM
PeterL, some caveats...

If you are making a white wine (even from red grapes), you will crush and press the wines the same day (sometimes in the same step). A red wine will require the grapes be crushed, and the whole mass (crushed grapes, pulp, skins, and seeds) sit in a vat for a few days to a week or more. The red comes from the yeast liberating the phytochemicals from the skin.

BillPatt
12-10-2009, 01:17 PM
Lets look at it from the labor perspective. You are trying to get rid of an expensive labor force (slaves) after the majority of the work is done. In traditional winemaking, there is only one real period of rest: after December/January, and before April.

Grapes get harvested in August/September and are crushed (actually slit open, not necessarily stomped) This can go on for quite a while, as not all grapes are ready for harvest at the same time, so the same vine may need a slave working on it for a few weeks.

By October, though, all the wine is in the barrels. But there's the specialty wines, those with botrytis (noble rot), and those you are leaving on the vines to freeze to make eiswine. So, there's a reduced force, but still a needed labor force out there. Finally, after a few months, the wine needs to get racked - the barrels emptied, and the lees washed out. If you don't do this, the wine gets really bitter. Depending on the size of the winery, water supply, and equipment, this could take weeks. But by January, it's all done. And the vines don't bloom again until April.

If I were the winery owner, I would use this downtime to do other things, like cooper the barrels, or, more likely, make the bottles. The glass-making fire I would use to heat the entire winery and mansion during the winter. It would keep the slaves busy, contain costs, and make the winery more self sufficient.

Consider this: if the slaves at this one winery are getting sold, are the other wineries trying to do the same thing?

Hope this helps.

Bill - one of those hobbyists you knew would pop up and pop off.

PeterL
12-10-2009, 05:41 PM
PeterL, some caveats...

If you are making a white wine (even from red grapes), you will crush and press the wines the same day (sometimes in the same step). A red wine will require the grapes be crushed, and the whole mass (crushed grapes, pulp, skins, and seeds) sit in a vat for a few days to a week or more. The red comes from the yeast liberating the phytochemicals from the skin.

I was quite aware of that. I would not make white wine.

PeterL
12-10-2009, 05:43 PM
Lets look at it from the labor perspective. You are trying to get rid of an expensive labor force (slaves) after the majority of the work is done. In traditional winemaking, there is only one real period of rest: after December/January, and before April.

Grapes get harvested in August/September and are crushed (actually slit open, not necessarily stomped) This can go on for quite a while, as not all grapes are ready for harvest at the same time, so the same vine may need a slave working on it for a few weeks.

By October, though, all the wine is in the barrels. But there's the specialty wines, those with botrytis (noble rot), and those you are leaving on the vines to freeze to make eiswine. So, there's a reduced force, but still a needed labor force out there. Finally, after a few months, the wine needs to get racked - the barrels emptied, and the lees washed out. If you don't do this, the wine gets really bitter. Depending on the size of the winery, water supply, and equipment, this could take weeks. But by January, it's all done. And the vines don't bloom again until April.

If I were the winery owner, I would use this downtime to do other things, like cooper the barrels, or, more likely, make the bottles. The glass-making fire I would use to heat the entire winery and mansion during the winter. It would keep the slaves busy, contain costs, and make the winery more self sufficient.

Consider this: if the slaves at this one winery are getting sold, are the other wineries trying to do the same thing?

Hope this helps.

Bill - one of those hobbyists you knew would pop up and pop off.



NB: The timing varies widely from place to place.

Rowan
12-11-2009, 02:26 AM
I wish I could be more help....I drink a lot of wine and have been to some vineyards... :)

Medievalist
12-11-2009, 04:20 AM
Thank you so much everyone! Your comments and links have been invaluable!

Unfortunately there aren't any vineyards within 150 miles of where I live. If I can get further south, I might be able to coordinate a trip to a winery. That is a good idea. All of your advice and reading material will give me a chance to come up with some educated questions!

There are wineries in Olympia! Google is your friend.

There are major wine tasting events in Olympia though, that are lots of fun, with people familiar with the entire process.

And lots of hobbyist wine makers--check your local farmers markets.

And think about a trip to Woodinville, Prosser or Yakima.

Ariella
12-11-2009, 09:05 PM
Karen Larsdatter has a nice collection of links to pre-modern images of winepresses and winemaking (http://www.larsdatter.com/winepresses.htm). They may be helpful when you're trying to visualize what the work would look like.