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Winemaking - Answering The Yield Versus Age Question

The eternal debate that seems to be unanswerable in the field of winemaking is the question of what gives rise to better grapes and thus better wine. Some people tend to believe that older grapes result in wine of much better quality. This belief is so strong that a large number of wineries actually stipulate the age of their vines on the labels of their wine bottles. The aim is to impress customers so that their wines become more popular and shared across a wider section of the population. But is there really truth to the older-grapes-better-wine theory?

This theory seems to be derived from the fact that the fewer the grapes which grow on a vine, the better the grapes and the wine taste. If you have too many grapes per vine, then you have grapes with different tastes and thus a wine with a bad flavor. The lesser the grapes the more likely that the wine flavor will be excellent and unique at the same, older vines tend to be less hardy than younger ones so they grow fewer grapes hence the theory that they tend to give rise to better grapes and wines.

Certain other people tend to disagree with this theory. They claim that this isn't the process which results in the best grapes or the best wine. According to their theory, the first few years of wine growth aren't anything at all. You don't get any grapes from your vines until year 3 or year 4 of their growth. When the growth actually comes there is a full harvest of grapes which continues until the 20th year of growth. It is after this period that you get the best flavored grapes according to this group of people. If you're confused with this explanation, you should know that it gets much worse. Research has shown that if the vines have been attached properly to their trellises, pruned regularly and cut, they should give rise to good grapes. Thinning is believed to increase the taste as well as reducing the yield. What this research claims is that the age is not what gives rise to the better tasting wines but the size of the yield.

Despite all this, after all the arguments have finished and each side has stated their position on the matter, conflicting evidence still shows that the higher the yield is , the better the grapes you get. In a particular acre of Chardonnay grapes, ten tons of grapes were produced and it was a good yield. When six tons of grapes were produced in the next harvest from the same acre, the grapes and the wine tasted better, which seemingly proved the theory. However the next year yielded four tons which tasted worse than the first two sets.

The final end to the question came from research which showed that grapes will have a great taste and produce better wine if they come from a vineyard that keeps its vines well taken care of and maintains them effectively.

Darren Williger is an over-caffeinated, low carbohydrate eating, winemaking enthusiast who writes for,, and