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The extensive vineyards of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, southern France Vinepyrennees2.jpg
The extensive vineyards of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, southern France
Aerial view of vineyards in Markgraflerland, Baden, Germany. Aerial View - Landschaft Markgraflerland1.jpg
Aerial view of vineyards in Markgräflerland, Baden, Germany.

A vineyard ( /ˈvɪnjərd/ VIN-yərd, also UK: /ˈvɪnjɑːrd/ VIN-yard) 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, which may be imparted in the wine.


Satyrs in vineyard. Attic red-figure volute-krater, ca. 490 BC, State Collections of Antiques in Munich. Berlin Painter fragment volute-krater satyroi.jpg
Satyrs in vineyard. Attic red-figure volute-krater, ca. 490 BC, State Collections of Antiques in Munich.

The earliest evidence of wine production dates from between 6000 and 5000 BC. [1] 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. [2]

In medieval Europe the Church was a staunch supporter of wine, which was necessary for the celebration of the Mass. During the lengthy instability of the Middle Ages, the monasteries maintained and developed viticultural practices, having the resources, security, stability and interest in improving the quality of their vines. They owned and tended the best vineyards in Europe and vinum theologium was considered superior to all others.

European vineyards were planted with a wide variety of the Vitis vinifera grape. However, in the late 19th century, the entire species was nearly destroyed by the plant louse phylloxera accidentally introduced to Europe from North America. Native American grapevines include varieties such as Vitis labrusca , which is resistant to the bug. Vitis vinifera varieties were saved by being grafted onto the rootstock of Native American varieties, although there is still no remedy for phylloxera, which remains a danger to any vineyard not planted with grafted rootstock.

Modern practices

A vineyard with bird-netting Vineyard.jpg
A vineyard with bird-netting
Napa Valley vineyard on the side of a road NorCal2018 -005 Wine Country - Random Napa Valley Vineyard on the side of a road -S0292033.jpg
Napa Valley vineyard on the side of a road

The quest for vineyard efficiency has produced a bewildering range of systems and techniques in recent years. Due to the often much more fertile New World growing conditions, attention has focussed heavily on managing the vine's more vigorous growth. Innovation in palissage (training of the vine, usually along a trellis, and often referred to as "canopy management") and pruning and thinning methods (which aim to optimize the Leaf Area/Fruit (LA/F) ratio relative to a vineyard's microclimate) have largely replaced more general, traditional concepts like "yield per unit area" in favor of "maximizing yield of desired quality". Many of these new techniques have since been adopted in place of traditional practice in the more progressive of the so-called "Old World" vineyards. [3]

Other recent practices include spraying water on vines to protect them from sub-zero temperatures (aspersion), new grafting techniques, soil slotting, and mechanical harvesting. Such techniques have made possible the development of wine industries in New World countries such as Canada. Today there is increasing interest in developing organic, ecologically sensitive and sustainable vineyards. Biodynamics has become increasingly popular in viticulture. The use of drip irrigation in recent years has expanded vineyards into areas which were previously unplantable.

For well over half a century, Cornell University, the University of California, Davis, and California State University, Fresno, among others, have been conducting scientific experiments to improve viticulture and educate practitioners. The research includes developing improved grape varieties and investigating pest control. The International Grape Genome Program is a multi-national effort to discover a genetic means to improving quality, increasing yield and providing a "natural" resistance to pests.

The implementation of mechanical harvesting is often stimulated by changes in labor laws, labor shortages, and bureaucratic complications. It can be expensive to hire labor for short periods of time, which does not square well with the need to reduce production costs and harvest quickly, often at night. However, very small vineyards, incompatible widths between rows of grape vines and steep terrain hinder the employment of machine harvesting even more than the resistance of traditional views which reject such harvesting. [4]

A vineyard in Napa Valley, California Napa Valley.jpg
A vineyard in Napa Valley, California
The Red Vineyard, 1888 by Vincent van Gogh, is the only van Gogh painting sold during his lifetime Red vineyards.jpg
The Red Vineyard, 1888 by Vincent van Gogh, is the only van Gogh painting sold during his lifetime

Numbers of New World vineyard plantings have been increasing almost as fast as European vineyards are being uprooted. Between 1990 and 2003, the number of U.S. vineyards increased from 1,180 to 3,860 km2 or 292,000 to 954,000 acres, while Australian vineyard numbers more than doubled from 590 to 1,440 km2 (146,000 to 356,000 acres) and Chilean vineyards grew from 654 to 1,679 km2 (161,500 to 415,000 acres).[ citation needed ] The size of individual vineyards in the New World is significant. Europe's 1.6 million vineyards are an average of 0.2 km2 (49 acres) each, while the average Australian vineyard is 0.5 km2 (120 acres), providing considerable economies of scale. Exports to Europe from New World growers increased by 54% in the six years up to 2006. [5]

There have also been significant changes in the kinds of grapes that are grown. For example, in Chile, large areas of low-quality grapes have been replaced with such grapes as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In Argentina, due to an economic down-turn, acreage of Malbec was significantly reduced in the 1980s, [6] but in the 1990s, during the quality revolution incited by Malbec Pioneer Nicolás Catena Zapata, growers started planting more Malbec, most notably in higher altitudes where cooler temperatures and more intense sunlight yields more concentrated yet smoother and more complex malbecs. [7] Grape changes are often in response to changing consumer demand but sometimes result from vine pull schemes designed to promote vineyard change. Alternatively, the development of "T" budding now permits the grafting of a different grape variety onto existing rootstock in the vineyard, making it possible to switch varieties within a two-year period.[ citation needed ]

Local legislation often dictates which varieties are selected, how they are grown, whether vineyards can be irrigated and exactly when grapes can be harvested, all of which in serves to reinforce tradition. Changes in the law can also change which grapes are planted. For example, during Prohibition in the U.S. (1920–1933), vineyards in California expanded sevenfold to meet the increasing demand for home-brewing. However, they were largely planted in varieties with tough skins that could be transported across the country to home wine-makers and the resulting wine was of a low quality.[ citation needed ]

According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, in April 2015, China (799,000 hectares or 1,970,000 acres) overtook France (792,000 hectares or 1,960,000 acres) in terms of land devoted to vineyards, in second place behind Spain (1,000,200 hectares or 2,472,000 acres), the world's largest producer. [8]


Malvasia grape vines growing in topsoil, covered in lapilli, La Geria, Lanzarote, Canary Islands. The low, curved walls protect the vines from the constant, drying wind. La Geria vines.jpg
Malvasia grape vines growing in topsoil, covered in lapilli, La Geria, Lanzarote, Canary Islands. The low, curved walls protect the vines from the constant, drying wind.
Wine estate in Hungary Novaj - 2015.01.14 (8).JPG
Wine estate in Hungary

Terroir refers to the combination of natural factors associated with any particular vineyard. These factors include things 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, although any difference in the resulting wine may be virtually undetectable.

Vineyards are often on located on hillsides and planted in soil that is of only marginal value to other plants. A common saying is that "the worse the soil, the better the wine." Planting on hillsides, especially those facing north (in the southern hemisphere) or south (in the northern hemisphere), is most often in an attempt to maximize the amount of sunlight that falls on the vineyard. For this reason, some of the best wines come from vineyards planted on quite steep hills, conditions which would make most other agricultural products uneconomic. The stereotypical vineyard site for wine grapes (in the Northern hemisphere) is a hillside in a dry climate with a southern exposure, good drainage to reduce unnecessary water uptake, and balanced pruning to force the vine to put more of its energy into the fruit, rather than foliage.

The terroir philosophy is predominately French in origin, the flavour and character of the place defining the individuality and the special attributes of wines and combined with hundreds of years of the finest wine making traditions, terroir gives wines their distinctive taste and signature.


A vignette is a 500-square-metre vineyard which is part of a larger consolidated vineyard.[ citation needed ] Investors purchase a piece of land within a vineyard, and outsource the grape maintenance and production operations to an outside grape grower or wine producers. Because they are contracting under a co-operative structure, they benefit from economies of scale and hence cheaper labour and operational costs.

See also

Related Research Articles

Cabernet Franc grapevine that yields black grapes used for wine

Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varieties worldwide. It is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but can also be vinified alone, as in the Loire's Chinon. In addition to being used in blends and produced as a varietal in Canada and the United States, it is sometimes made into ice wine in those regions.

Phylloxera Species of insect that plagues grapevines.

Grape phylloxera ; originally described in France as Phylloxera vastatrix; equated to the previously described Daktulosphaera vitifoliae, Phylloxera vitifoliae; commonly just called phylloxera is a pest of commercial grapevines worldwide, originally native to eastern North America.

Malbec wine varietal

Malbec is a purple grape variety used in making red wine. The grapes tend to have an inky dark color and robust tannins, and are known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine. In France, plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in Cahors in South West France, though the grape is grown worldwide. It is increasingly celebrated as an Argentine varietal.

Carignan red wine grape

Carignan is a red grape variety of Spanish origin that is more commonly found in French wine but is widely planted throughout the western Mediterranean and around the globe. Along with Aramon, it was considered one of the main grapes responsible for France's wine lake and was a substantial producer in jug wine production in California's Central Valley but in recent years, it has been reborn as a flagship wine for many cellars in the south of France as well as Catalonia, Spain

Viticulture science, production and study of grapes

Viticulture or winegrowing is the cultivation and harvesting of grapes. It is a branch of the science of horticulture. While the native territory of Vitis vinifera, the common grape vine, ranges from Western Europe to the Persian shores of the Caspian Sea, the vine has demonstrated high levels of adaptability to new environments, hence viticulture can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

Mourvèdre wine grape

Mourvèdre is a red wine grape variety grown in many regions around the world including the Rhône and Provence regions of France, the Valencia and Jumilla denominaciones de origen of Spain, as well as the Balearic Islands, California and Washington and the Australian regions of South Australia and New South Wales, as well as South Africa. In addition to making red varietal wines, Mourvèdre is a prominent component in "GSM" blends. The variety is also used to make rosé and port-style fortified wines.

Argentine wine

Argentina is the fifth largest producer of wine in the world. Argentine wine, as with some aspects of Argentine cuisine, has its roots in Spain. During the Spanish colonization of the Americas, vine cuttings were brought to Santiago del Estero in 1557, and the cultivation of the grape and wine production stretched first to neighboring regions, and then to other parts of the country.

South African wine has a history dating back to 1659, with the first bottle produced in Cape Town by its founder Jan van Riebeeck. Access to international markets led to new investment in the South African wine market. Production is concentrated around Cape Town, with major vineyard and production centres at Constantia, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester. There are about 60 appellations within the Wine of Origin (WO) system, which was implemented in 1973 with a hierarchy of designated production regions, districts and wards. WO wines must only contain grapes from the specific area of origin. "Single vineyard" wines must come from a defined area of less than 5 hectares. An "Estate Wine" can come from adjacent farms if they are farmed together and wine is produced on site. A ward is an area with a distinctive soil type or climate and is roughly equivalent to a European appellation.

Washington wine

Washington wine is wine produced from grape varieties grown in the U.S. state of Washington. Washington ranks second in the United States in the production of wine. By 2017, the state had over 55,000 acres (220 km2) of vineyards, a harvest of 229,000 short tons (208,000 t) of grapes, and exports going to over 40 countries around the world from the 940+ wineries located in the state. While there are some viticultural activities in the cooler, wetter western half of the state, the majority (99.9%) of wine grape production takes place in the shrub-steppe eastern half. The rain shadow of the Cascade Range leaves the Columbia River Basin with around 8 inches (200 mm) of annual rain fall, making irrigation and water rights of paramount interest to the Washington wine industry. Viticulture in the state is also influenced by long sunlight hours and consistent temperatures.

Gros Verdot is a red French wine grape variety that was a historically important grape in the Gironde wine region of Bordeaux but plantings of the variety have been banned in the region since 1946 with the grape no longer being a permitted variety in any AOC Bordeaux wines.

Pineau d'Aunis is a red French wine grape variety that is grown primarily in the Loire Valley around Anjou and Touraine.

Bouchalès or Grapput is a red French wine grape variety that is grown primarily in Bordeaux and Southwest France wine appellations. Plantings have declined in recent years as the vine has shown high sensitivity to downy mildew and black rot.

Villard grapes are French wine hybrid grape created by French horticulturist Bertille Seyve and his father-in-law Victor Villard. They include the dark skin Villard noir and the white-wine variety Villard blanc with both being members of the Seyve-Villard grape family. Villard noir is a cross of two other French hybrids, Siebel 6905 and Seibel 7053 created by physician and plant breeder Albert Seibel. Like Villard noir, Villard blanc was produced as a crossing of two Seibel grapes, in this case, Le Subereux and Seibel 6468.

Coulure viticultural hazard that is the result of metabolic reactions to weather conditions that causes a failure of grapes to develop after flowering

Coulure is a viticultural hazard that is the result of metabolic reactions to weather conditions that causes a failure of grapes to develop after flowering. In English the word shatter is sometimes used. Coulure is triggered by periods of cold, cloudy, rainy weather or very high out-of-season temperatures. The condition is most often manifested in the spring. It also occurs in vines that have little sugar content in their tissue. Flowers stay closed and are not fertilized. Thus the vines are not pollinated as the grape fails to develop and falls off. Coulure can also cause irregular bunches of grapes which are less compact than normal. These bunches are more sensitive to developing various grape diseases. The yield of a vine with coulure will decrease substantially. Grape varieties with high proclivity to coulure are Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, and Muscat Ottonel. Other causes of coulure may be vineyard conditions and practices, pruning too early or too severely, excessively fertile soils or overuse of fertilizers, and improper selection of rootstocks or clones.

Texas wine

Texas has a long history of wine production. The sunny and dry climate of the major winemaking regions in the state have drawn comparison to Portuguese wines, in addition to other regions in Europe like Spain, France, and Italy. Some of the earliest recorded Texas wines were produced by Spanish missionaries in the 1650s near El Paso. Texas ranked as the fifth largest wine producing state by 2019.

Finger Lakes AVA

The Finger Lakes AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in Upstate New York, south of Lake Ontario. The Finger Lakes encompass eleven glacial lakes, but the area around Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes contain the vast majority of vineyard plantings in the AVA. Cayuga and Seneca Lakes each have their own American Viticultural Areas completely contained within the Finger Lakes AVA. The Finger Lakes AVA includes 11,000 acres (4,452 ha) of vineyards and is the largest wine-producing region in New York State.

This glossary of viticultural terms list some of terms and definitions involved in growing grapes for use in winemaking.

Vine training

The use of vine training systems in viticulture is aimed primarily to assist in canopy management with finding the balance in enough foliage to facilitate photosynthesis without excessive shading that could impede grape ripening or promote grape diseases. Additional benefits of utilizing particular training systems could be to control potential yields and to facilitate mechanization of certain vineyard tasks such as pruning, irrigation, applying pesticide or fertilizing sprays as well as harvesting the grapes.

Douce noir

Douce noir is a red Savoyard wine grape variety that has historically been grown in the Savoy region, but today is more widely planted in Argentina. The earliest mention of the grape dates from when Etruscans first planted Bonarda some 3.000 years ago in the Padana Region. It arrived in Savoie in the early 19th century, and by the end of the century it was the most widely grown red wine grape in the region. In the early 21st century it was discovered that the Bonarda grape, which is the 2nd most widely planted red grape, after Malbec, in Argentina was the Italian wine grape Bonarda Piemontese imported by Italian immigrants. The grape is also grown in California where it is known as Charbono.

Propagation of grapevines important consideration in commercial viticulture and winemaking

The propagation of grapevines is an important consideration in commercial viticulture and winemaking. Grapevines, most of which belong to the Vitis vinifera family, produce one crop of fruit each growing season with a limited life span for individual vines. While some centenarian old vine examples of grape varieties exist, most grapevines are between the ages of 10 and 30 years. As vineyard owners seek to replant their vines, a number of techniques are available which may include planting a new cutting that has been selected by either clonal or mass (massal) selection. Vines can also be propagated by grafting a new plant vine upon existing rootstock or by layering one of the canes of an existing vine into the ground next to the vine and severing the connection when the new vine develops its own root system.


  1. "8,000-year-old wine unearthed in Georgia". Archeology. 2003. Retrieved 24 February 2004.
  2. Phillips, R. (2000). A Short History of Wine. Harper Collins. p. 37. ISBN   0-06-093737-8.
  3. Jackson, Robert (2000). Wine Science: Principles, Practice, Perception . San Diego: Academic Press. pp.  99–100. ISBN   0-12-379062-X.
  4. nuksoy. "Wine and spirits disappoint on sales | nuksoy" (in Turkish). Retrieved 2019-11-16.
  5. Traynor, Ian; Gow, David (July 5, 2007). "Grown in Italy, pressed in Sweden, sold as chianti. Europlonk nouveau has arrived". The Guardian.
  6. Malbec, Jancis Robinson.
  7. Meet the man who scaled Argentina’s mountains to bring malbec wine to the world, The Globe and Mail, September 2014.
  8. "China overtakes France in vineyards". BBC News. 27 April 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015.

Further reading