You know where high yields are good? Thought you would never ask!
Oil wells come to mind. Energy of all kinds in fact, say electricity, natural gas, coal/ wind. What about diamond Mines, Gold Mines, or gems of any kind. High yields of endangered species would be a good thing. More trees, more air, more food for those who need it. More freedom, more creative yielding humans, more opportunity for one’s self and others. Yes high yields can in fact be a good thing. But do you know where it’s not a good thing, yes you guessed it, WINE!
There are only three types of wine made today! That’s right you heard me correctly.
1-High Yield Wine
2-Medium Yield Wine
3-Low Yield Wine
High Yield Wine is that which hangs as many clusters on a vine to the point of the vine itself almost collapsing from the weight. Over ripe, under ripe berries all thrown into one big tank and fermented as quickly as possible. This of course brings down the price to a place where many people feel comfortable. As said many times, they have their place, and being from a blue collar working family I certainly understand. But this is the path I would hate to be stuck walking, making inexpensive wines for a living.
Now for the wine in the middle, they are wines that make more sense to me as many are very drinkable and satisfying. They may not be age worthy, however they are much more affordable than those of the higher end and still enhance a meal. These are the sweet spot wines that sell quickly and for better or worse drive the market place. If I ran my winery strictly as a business this is what I would make. Good quality, affordable pricing and made for the satisfaction of those whom would never really put the time in to improve their palates. Not because they don’t want to but because they are too busy with life, work, or just not a passion.
Last and for me the only wines are low yield, balance vineyard wines. Low yield wines mean exactly what it says, the overall yield of fruit per acre is much lower than the first two categories. They are intentionally farmed that way, and the reason is simple. The vine is an engine, it wants to produce. Great wine makers/vineyard managers control the vigor of the vineyard as best they can. They add cover crops down the center of the vineyards to compete for nourishment. They prune and leaf a certain way to slow fruit production. They use less vigorous root stocks, and plant more densely to stave off yields, and of course they drop fruit, in a green stage and to even the crop. When there is less fruit the vine concentrates on what’s left and it uses all its energy to ripen the remaining clusters. Since the last drop you make usually is to even the crop, meaning any fruit that was behind was dropped to give the vineyard uniformity you are left with “Vineyard Balance.” You are also left with much more intense flavors at a much lower sugar, creating a wine that is lower in alcohol and higher in native acid.
I was asked one time from a fellow wine maker why his whole cluster wines were so green, and tasted so badly compared to mine. After reviewing the science, and yields the answer was simple. You can’t make a whole cluster wine with yields that are grandiose as they are not concentrated enough to hold up to the stems, not to mention the stems will never be ripe enough. Pricing of course is ultimately affected adversely and so, therein lies the negative. Every bottle of wine made has fruit cost, it’s number one cost and if you’re paying three to 10 times more for fruit, than even a third grader gets that math.
What’s right for me, and what path I have chosen is not the right path, it’s mine. A choice, a direction, something that makes me happy. A pursuit if you will, to make a better bottle and never stay stagnant or complacent in that pursuit. In the end it’s only for those that pause and take the time to realize the difference, and as you train your senses you start to see why the journey becomes so important.
Caution signs are up however as you become more knowledgeable you need spend more capital, or another way to put it your increased pleasure, and informed palate equals a lighter wallet.
Drink well, and live longer,