Autumn In The Vineyard
Photograph - Digital Photography
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The end-of-day warm rays of post-harvest sun strike the colorful leaves and few remaining wine grapes on the vine.
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A vineyard is a plantation of grape-bearing vines, grown mainly for winemaking, but also raisins, table grapes and non-alcoholic grape juice. The science, practice and study of vineyard production is known as viticulture. A vineyard is often characterised by its terroir, a French term loosely translating as "a sense of place" that refers to the specific geographical and geological characteristics of grapevine plantations, and may include natural factors such as soil, underlying rock, altitude, slope of hill or terrain, orientation toward the sun, and microclimate(typical rain, winds, humidity, temperature variations, etc.). No two vineyards have exactly the same terroir. The earliest evidence of wine production dates from between 6000 and 5000 BC. Wine making technology improved considerably with the ancient Greeks but it wasn't until the end of the Roman Empire that cultivation techniques as we know them were common throughout Europe. For well over half a century Cornell University in the Finger Lakes wine region of New York, the University of California - Davis near the California wine regions of the Napa, Sonoma, Russian River valleys, and California State University - Fresno, among others, have been conducting scientific experiments to improve viticulture and educating practitioners.
The annual growth cycle of grapevines is the process that takes place in the vineyard each year, beginning with bud break in the spring and culminating in leaf fall in autumn followed by winter dormancy. From a winemaking perspective, each step in the process plays a vital role in the development of grapes with ideal characteristics for making wine. The harvesting of wine grapes is one of the most crucial steps in the process of winemaking. The time of harvest is determined primarily by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels with winemakers basing their decision to pick based on the style of wine they wish to produce. The weather can also shape the timetable of harvesting with the threat of heat, rain, hail, and frost which can damage the grapes and bring about various vine diseases. The harvest season typically falls between August & October in the Northern Hemisphere. Following the harvest, the vines continues the process of photosynthesis, creating carbohydrate reserves to store in the vine's roots and trunks. It will continue doing this until an appropriate level of reserves have been stored. At that point the chlorophyll in the leaves begin to break down and the leaves change color from green to yellow and orange. Following the first frost the leaves begin to fall as the vine starts to enter its winter dormancy period. The following spring, the cycle begins again.
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September 3rd, 2013
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