As we have already discussed in previous articles (see here and here), before wine becomes wine is grapes! Grapes is a favourite summer fruit; black and white grapes is the fruit of the vine, which belongs in the climbing plants family. You should know that, quite rightly, grapes has since antiquity been referred to as ‘food of the gods’ due to its many ‘virtues’, as Homer himself describes. The plant (vine) and fruit (grape) have both rich nutrients and many derivatives; in addition to its fruit, the vine grants various products such as must, wine, vinegar, raisins and many more that you can find in the article The gifts of vine on your table. When it comes to wine, the vineyard, as a plant that lives for many years, only needs two years since planting to produce wine.

The growth of grapes

Two years after planting, the vineyard is able to produce a grape harvest. This crop is produced once a year, when the climate is warmer. In Mediterranean countries, for example, growth begins in late spring to late summer.

Grape maturation has three stages: flowering, conversion into grape and ripening. Initially, some flower clusters grow; each of these flowers becomes a grape. The initial colour of the grape, whether this is black or white, is green and the fruit is hard. The final stage is ripening: at this stage the grapes swell with water and their sugar level increases while the acid level decreases. At this point the grapes acquire their characteristic aromas (primary aromas – see corresponding article here) and final colour – white grapes acquire green, greenish or golden colour and black grapes transform from green to crimson, red or purple.

Vine and climate

As mentioned above the vine needs a certain level of sunlight and heat in order to grow and mature. In general, extreme conditions, such as too much heat or cold all year round, adversely affect fruit yield and ripening. Nevertheless, in areas where winter is quite cold, the vines rest and thus grow better. Therefore, the vines are cultivated in latitudes that provide the grapes with the right amount of light, warmth and water. These areas are neither too close to Equator nor too close to the poles, as depicted below:

The influence of climate

The climate, as stated above, has a decisive influence on the vine but also on the characteristics of grapes – that is, it forms the so-called terroir. The colder the climate, the lower the sugar level and the higher the acidity level in grapes. On the contrary, the warmer the climate, the higher the sugar level and the lower the acidity level in grapes. Generally, grapes in warm climates, have more balanced characteristics.

Cold climate areas

Areas considered ‘cold climates’ are those closest to the poles, such as Germany and northern France. In these areas the average temperature is low and the sunlight is usually weaker, so sometimes the grapes delay the process of ripening. White grapes are usually grown in these areas.

Warm climate areas

These areas are closer to Equator, such as parts of Australia and California. In these areas the average temperature is high, the sunlight is intense and thus grapes ripen more steadily. Red grapes are usually grown in these areas.