Tuesday, April 30, 2019

How many grapevines do you need to grow to make a bottle of wine?

A lot of people have been asking me how much wine I've been able to make from my container vineyard. The harsh truth is... not that much.

Typically you'd need around 10 – 12 lbs of fruit to make a gallon worth a wine. Believe it or not, that is quite a few grapes....
Let's take a look at my historic harvests and see how close I was to making a whole bottle of wine.
This was my harvest from 2016. It wasn't much only around half a pound of grapes.
Here was the harvest from 2017. It was a lot bigger, but it was mostly propelled by one Syrah vine that went out of control that year. Only two of my vines produced grapes, but it was namely the one Syrah vine that produced. I didn't get a weight as my scale broke that year, but volume of the juice alone was able to fill a 32 oz mason jar full.
Based on my calculation, it must have produced around 2 lbs worth of fruit. Enough for a bottle of wine? Just about. After removing the skins from the grapes and all the other stuff that settled out, I got about 500 ml of wine. Pretty close to a whole bottle!
Now the 2018 harvest was slightly less than the previous year's harvest; The juice I produced was around 16 oz. I didn't gather that much data other than the fact that more grapevines produced fruit. It could have been bigger harvest, but I unfortunately lost two vines worth of fruit to the birds. I also did not get a weight from these grapes either.
My experience making wine has not been so fruitful, but we can look at the numbers here to see how much wine I could potentially make.

Let's do some math.... to make one bottle of wine, which is 750 ml or 0.20 gallons, you would need about 2 – 3 lbs of grapes. That's not too much..
How many grapevines do we need to produce that many grapes? Given my Syrah vine nearly produced that many grapes in the year of 2017, if I had another grapevine that produced that way, I would only need about two young grapevines to make a bottle each year. Mind you that the Syrah vine was only two years old the year it bore that much fruit.
Now imagine if all 12 of grapevines were nearly that productive, let's assume 75% of that legendary Syrah vine. From my estimated calculation before, That would add up to 1.5 lbs of grapes per plant, or 18 lbs, which would make around 1.8 gallons or 9x 750 ml bottles of wine. Pretty cool if you ask me! Just know that you shouldn't count your wine bottles before you harvest because outside factors could affect your production (like birds)
I would imagine these numbers are different though depending on the size and location of the grapevines. Older and larger vines could produce well above 2 lbs of grapes per year, so don't expect those kinds of numbers if you're just starting out with viticulture. You could end up making several bottles from one large vine if it grows big enough. This is especially true if your grapes aren't limited by being in containers.

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