Viticulture, the science and study of grapes
Viticulture is the term derived from the Latin word ‘vine.’ It refers to the science of producing and studying grapes that involves dealing with different events that occur in series in the vineyard. It is also sometimes referred to as viniculture, when the produced grapes are used for the process of making wine. Viticulture comes under the broad term of horticulture. It is one of the branches of horticulture.
The native region of Vitis Vinifera, the common grape vine, is a group of areas extending from Western Europe to the Persian Shores of Caspian Sea. The vine, however, has exhibited high levels of adaptableness and sometimes transforms to adapt a new environment after it is introduced. Due to this adaptability of vine, viticulture can be seen in each continent, except in Antarctica.
There are certain duties of a viticulturist that include:
- Monitoring and controlling pests and diseases
- Canopy management
- Monitoring fruit development
- Decision of harvesting
- Vine clipping during winters
Viticulturists and winemakers are closely involved because the management of the vineyard and the grapes produced offer the basis of the winemaking.
History of Viticulture
The history of viticulture and wine are related closely because man has been cultivating grapes to process wine; this relation between grapes and wine dates back to as far as the Neolithic period. Histologists have found evidence of domestication of Vitis Vinifera taking place in the region where modern day Georgia is present. Clear evidence of cultivation of grapes taking place near East from Early Bronze Age around 3200 BC has also been found.
The earliest evidence of vine cultivation gives an idea that the hermaphroditic members of the Vitis Vinifera species have an edge over the unfertile male and female vines that need to be fertilized by some close male for pollination. Whereas, the hermaphroditic vines possessed the ability to pollinate themselves and they used to produce offsprings that were also hermaphroditic in nature.
The Greek historian, Thucydides, wrote that people of the Mediterranean began to emerge from barbarism when they learnt to cultivate olive and vine. The time period referred to was the time between 3000 BC and 2000 BC. This was the period when viticulture was in full force in regions including Asia Minor, Crete, Greece and the Cyclades of the Aegean Sea. It was this time period when the cultivation of grape progressed from just a part of local consumption to an essential element of local markets and trade.
There are a number of hazards that need attention when it comes to growing vines. The effects of these hazards on the wine formed from the grape can be hostile. The vine can kill itself. At the time of flowering of the vine, weather hazards like strong winds and hail can cause harm to the vine. It is also very susceptible to cold temperatures in the flowering period because cold temperatures can lead to the onset of Millerand age which is a condition of grapes in which they produce clusters that do not have seeds and have different sizes. On the other hand, excessive heat can have a reaction opposite to the one mentioned previously. It can lead to production of coulure that results in falling of the grape clusters to the ground or the grapes do not develop fully.
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