It takes about 2.6 lbs of fruit to make a bottle of wine. A typical vineyard might yield five tons per acre or about 3850 bottles of wine per acre.
Grapevines yield different quantities of fruit, depending upon the planting density of the vineyard. The more vines planted per acre, the less fruit per vine.
Many older California vineyards were planted with vines spaced widely at 8 feet apart in rows 12 feet apart. That 8x12 spacing resulted in 454 large vines per acre. Some European vineyards exceed 2000 very small vines per acre. Higher density plantings are often made in fertile soils. New Temecula Valley vineyards are planted at medium to lower density, which fits well with irrigated, non-fertile soils.
Grapevine rows are planted in directions that work best with the terrain, prevailing winds, and solar exposure. If possible, it is best to get equal solar exposure on both sides of the vine row. Although North -South rows do divide the daylight hours equally, in the Temecula Valley, the "morning sun side" of the vine needs longer solar exposure because the misty mornings have lower solar intensity than the afternoons. Where possible, we prefer rows running Northeast-Southwest.
Head trained vines, pruned like little trees without wire trellises, are formed with radial symmetry instead of linear. These old style vineyards give equal solar exposure under all conditions, but can require extra attention.
Modern irrigated vineyards are equipped with moisture monitoring technologies so that the right amounts of water is applied at the right times. To produce high quality fruit, vines are water stressed to balance vine growth with crop size. Organic mulches and cover crops are other tools used to help achieve "vine balance".
The most important factor in determining when to harvest the grapes is the type or style of wine to be made. For instance, dessert wines are picked at high sugar levels, dry table wines at normal ripeness, and light, fruity wines with residual sugar picked at the first sign of ripeness.
Dry table wines may be harvested based upon the brix measure (percent sugar in the fruit), but modern winemakers also taste for flavor, looking for the development of ripe flavors and the disappearance of green, under ripe qualities. In red winegrapes, winemakers taste the skins for full tannins without bitterness (this can also be analyzed), and look for brown, mature grape seeds before picking.
Traditionally grape stomping was done to crush the grapes, not to press them, as is sometimes thought. Modern crushers also remove the grape stems before crushing. These crushers are very gentle and may be adjustable, allowing the winemaker to decide whether to completely crush all the grapes, some of them, or even leaving mostly uncrushed grapes to be fermented.
White wines cold fermented in tanks tend to be lighter, more perfumed, and fruitier than barrel fermented wines, which tend to be richer on the palate and more nuanced in flavor with the addition of oak aromas and flavors.
Red wine fermentation is all done in tanks or bins made of stainless steel, plastic, wood, or concrete. The fermenting grape skins have to be mixed with the liquid periodically to extract color, flavor and tannins from the skins.
The oldest method of mixing the fermenting must is to manually "punch down" the floating skins into the liquid must below. The typical modern method is to "pump over" the liquid from the bottom portion of the tank over and through the skins on top, using a mechanical pump; this is generally the harshest extraction method. Another gentle method, called "delestage" or "rack and return" involves emptying the tank of all liquid, and then pumping it back into the tank. There are also automated tanks which carry out punch downs or mixing.
Barrel aging of red wine is done to allow the wine to develop mature, pleasing flavors and a smooth palate. Gentle techniques of handling grapes and wine usually result in wines needing less barrel aging time than used to be necessary. This is considered to be positive since the wine is naturally smoother, and avoiding lengthy aging helps retain more of the fruit flavors in the wine. Red wines which receive small barrel aging spend between eight months and two years in the barrel.
Wine barrels hold 60 gallons of wine, the equivalent of 300 bottles of wine.
Wine barrels are made from white oak from the United States and Europe. European oak differs from American oak in a number of ways both in structure and quality. Although European barrels are more expensive (especially French Barrels), there have been great improvements in American barrels in recent years, achieved by using traditional European barrel making techniques. Most wineries in California use both types.
American oak barrels tend to give stronger flavors and tannins to the wine compared to European oak. Some high profile wineries use only French oak, but at least two top rated California wineries use only American oak barrels. Mount Palomar Winery uses French, Hungarian, mixed source European, and American oak barrels. Each barrel type has a unique flavor and aroma profile that can be matched with specific wine types, or even be blended for flavor complexity.
Wine is one of the oldest beverages mentioned in historic texts going back to ancient Egypt. It is believed that Egyptian nobility drank wine, and everyone else drank beer. It is almost certain that wine has been available to almost anyone with vineyards, since grape juice will naturally ferment into wine with no further human intervention necessary.
Left alone and exposed to air, most wine will turn to vinegar. It was found that sealed containers, such as the ancient Greek or Phoenician amphorae, helped preserve wine. The Greeks also added pine resin or concentrated the wine for later dilution as a means of preservation.
Early religious texts both praise and condemn the effects of wine on the drinker, but studies have shown that even animals will seek out naturally fermented berries.
Once a bottle of table wine is opened, but not finished, it begins a steady decline. Most red wines should be drunk by the following day, although another day or two is possible. Opened white wines keep quite well in the refrigerator for a week or more, albeit with some changes. Some people will refrigerate opened red wine to prolong its usefulness, which does work, but is not really recommended. Some red wines will throw a heavy sediment under refrigeration and change in structure and flavor.
Fortified dessert wines like Ports and Sherries will last very well after opening. Port may last a month or more, although with some changes, and Sherry, which is produced with exposure to air, will last indefinitely.
Most wines in the world are made to be consumed within three years of the vintage date. A few table wines may last much longer, but a good general rule is to consume white wines no longer than three years from the vintage date, and red wines no more than six years. The point is not to see how long the wine can age, but to drink it while it is most enjoyable and before it starts declining.
While some varieties age better than others, it is difficult to predict without knowing the prior history of the specific variety from that winery. At Mount Palomar Winery we can safely recommend the following ages for consumption from the listed vintage date:
1 – 2 Years
Riesling, Chardonnay, Viognier, Shorty's Bistro White1 – 4 YearsCortese, Sangiovese Rose, Dry Riesling, Solanus
2 – 4 yearsShorty's Bistro Red, Cinsaut
2 – 5 YearsSangiovese
3 – 6 YearsMeritage, Trovato, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cloudbreak, Paramount, Tantamount, Ubervin
3 – 8 yearsSyrah
No LimitLimited Reserve Port
Solera Cream Sherry