Grape harvests are largely done in the Northern Hemisphere, grapes are sorted, fermentation begun—in many cases finished—winemakers are taking stock, evaluating vintage, praying for magic.
Grapes that farmers fondled and reverenced for months are precious commodities. Each globe represents the future of a family, a business, an industry.
It takes somewhere between 600 and 800 grapes to make a 750 ml bottle of wine. That is about 10 clusters. When you purchase a bag of table grapes, you typically get three or four clusters. Your bottle of wine is three bags of table grapes.
Grapes can be pricey. The lower the yield per acre, typically the more concentrated and better the flavor and finer the wine. Two tons per acre is common for quality, 10-plus tons can be coaxed in push-the-envelope, quality-is-not-the-point acres.
A ton of grapes, high quality or low, produces about 720 bottles. That is 7,200 grape clusters or 432,000 to 576,000 individual grapes. If the vineyard produces only two tons per acre, you wind up with 1,440 bottles. If you get 10 tons per acre, you get 7,200 bottles. If you produce less bottles per acre, it is very likely the bottle will taste better and be more expensive than vineyard squeezing out max bottles per acre.
Next time you pull cork or twist a cap, think of the hundreds of grapes that did their best to provide you pleasure. Think, too, of the vineyard farmers who worked for months, eyed the skies sometimes in terror, often in supplication, hoed the rows, clipped the clusters, and sorted berries with juice-stained hands.
• Columbia Winery Chardonnay 2013: Washington State chard, cleaner and less fruity-oaked than many California efforts; versatile, easy drinking delight. $14
• Castello Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio Toscana 2014: Citrusy, lemon-lime, melon, banana, white peach, grapefruit; fresh, lively flavors, minerality on the palate. $18
• Kim Crawford Small Parcels Spitfire Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014: Forceful example of why Marlborough sauv blancs and Kim Crawford seize attention of the wine world. $20-26
Last round: Wine truth is not in the first bottle. It is in the second bottle. A PhD is in the third bottle.
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