The vine starts out looking like a simple piece of wood. The wine grower is able to choose between many different sorts of vines called grape varieties. The choice is made by the wine maker according to the soil type, climate and the type of wine he wants to produce.
The plants are placed in perfectly aligned rows spaced in order to determine the number of plants per hectare.
|In the Languedoc-Roussillon there is no strict rule. At Saint Pierre about 4550 vines are planted per hectare.|
|One month later after a great deal of watering, the plants should be growing well.|
It takes three years for the vines to produce their first grapes. If they do not catch any diseases the plants can produce grapes for several decades.
Next, the vines are attached to wires in order to control the greenery. Vines are creepers and must be mastered and guided. When the leaves start to fall in mid-November, the wine grower can start to prune the vine-trunks. It is a long hard job which requires experience and can determine the quality and quantity of the next harvest. Correct pruning can guarantee a long life for the vine. The dead wood must be cut away and the branches shortened with sufficient buds left for future harvests.
After several months of pruning the vine-shoots are crushed and the vine is worked on several times until July in order to maintain a good humidity and to keep the rows cleared of weeds. July is often very hot and dry and so the vines must be regularly watered.
The harvesting is generally done around the end of August. The is the most rewarding moment for a year of hard work. Automatic harvesting machines ensure a high quality with minimum damage to the vine. The system is quite simple – the branches are shaken and the bunches fall onto a conveyor belt and are collected. To ensure that the grape is at the peak of its maturity, each vine is tested on a daily basis as the harvest approaches.
A laboratory is used to analyse the grape and determine, according to the alcohol level, the best moment to start picking.