You would think that the path from vine to glass would be an easy one: grape, bottle, glass. Right? Sorry, but that path is a long and winding road, as complex as wine itself. Take my hand as we travel the road of Vine to Glass.
First stop. Find some land, preferably cleared. If it’s not cleared, clear it.
Plant vines on it (What kind? Reds [Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscadine] or whites [Chardonnay, Tranimette, Seyval Blanc]), and then install the trellises and miles of wire required for the vines’ development.
Tend those vines through three (3!) full growing seasons; watch them, prune them, train them without harvesting a single grape.
Are you still with me?
Harvest the grapes! – under the right conditions, with enough people and equipment.
Once the grapes are harvested, we come to a crazy crossroad with signs pointing every which-a-way.
Do we crush the grapes or no?
Do they go to the tank or macerate (sit on their skins) and, if so, for how long?
Do we leave the juice in the tank or move it to barrels and, if so, what kind of barrel and for how long?
Stay with me; we’re almost there.
When the wine is ready (When is it ready, anyway?), move the wine from the barrels (or tanks) into tanks to blend for consistency (whether it is a blend or a varietal).
From the tank the wine goes into bottles. The bottles go to case boxes.
Do the boxes go to the tasting room? Maybe, depending upon the wine. Some wines will go to the cellar to rest in their bottles for months or years!
The old Paul Masson marketing tag, “We will sell no wine before its time” applies to every wine at this point. When it is time, the wine comes to the customer either at the tasting room or at the retailer.
Whew! You made it! Good job.
To travel the road of Vine to Glass you need a map or an info graphic, and there are many out there. My own includes a hillside, some bare feet and Father Time. For a professional “map”, check here. At least theirs mentions growing grapes!
Visit the Habersham Vineyards & Winery tasting room in Helen. View the barrels, the tanks and the bottling line. Ask questions. Talk to the friendly staff. Let them take you down the Vine to Glass road even as you sample and enjoy their great wines.