For those of you who have a favorite wine, have you ever thought of visiting a winery? During a winery tour, not only do you learn about the grapes and the wines, but you also learn where the grapes originated. On a recent trip to California, we visited a winery in the Paso Robles area.
We tasted several wines in the comfortable tasting room. The young woman who presented the wines for tasting offered excellent information on wine, grapes and what tastes we might experience with the different grapes. Then we were driven on a golf cart through the vineyards winding up at a high point of the vineyard where we could view the many vineyards in the surrounding valleys. It was a beautiful scene.
Some wineries make wines of individual grapes, which grow at different altitudes and in different areas of dryness or moisture. The winery we visited grows vines at several elevations, as well as at two other vineyards. The owner worked in multiple vineyards in California before he selected the area he liked and started his own winery. We were not allowed to tour the actual wine making buildings, because the last press was still in progress. The buildings can hold as many as 60,000 barrels of wine in different process of aging. Each barrel holds 25 cases of wine, and each case holds 12 bottles of wine.
Nothing is wasted. The left-over mast from the pressing is spread along the roots of the vines to fertilize the vines. As we drove through the vineyard, our guide showed us different ages of vines, which are planted in the ground after two years in a greenhouse to give the vines a good start. The first harvest is not until the vines are three years old. As we drove home, we noted many new vineyards being planted throughout California’s Salinas and Central Valleys.
We also visited several Spanish Missions on the trip. Many of the original California grapevines and the oaks which provide corks for the wine bottles, were imported into California by the Mission padres. The padres also imported olive trees for olive oil, starting a major industry in California.
I would highly recommend a tour of a winery, not just the tasting room if possible. What is in the glass in your hand is the end of a several years process that many people who enjoy drinking wine don’t even know about.