Winery v. Vineyard Hot

Winery v. Vineyard
Vineto & Casale, Vineyard in Tuscany
Photo © rayced

Some wines that you buy say that the come from such-and-such a winery while other wines say they come form such-and-such a vineyard, but what's the difference between a winery and a vineyard? Is a vineyard better than a winery, or do some wine producers simply adopt the "vineyard" label because it sounds better? That's not an entirely unreasonable concern because there are no legal standards for the use of these terms — any wine producer can all themselves a winery or vineyard if they want.

What is a Vineyard?

A vineyard is, as the word suggests, a "yard" where vines are grown — specifically, vines for grapes used to produce wine. Obviously it's not a "yard" in just the literal sense, but any set of fields or estate where people grow grapes for the purpose of producing wine. A vineyard may be small with just a few acres or it might be huge with hundreds of acres. Some wine producers may have just one or two areas which they call their vineyards or they may have dozens spread around a region, all used to produce a variety of wines.

Technically speaking, a vineyard is not necessarily a place where wines are also produced — the grapes may be grown for the purpose of creating wines, but the people in charge of growing and tending the grape vines aren't necessarily the same ones responsible for actually creating the wines. In practice, though, if someone is going to put "vineyard" on their bottle of wine, they are likely responsible for both growing the grapes and producing the wine you're drinking.

What is a Winery?

A winery is a place where wine is produced: it's where the grapes are processed, stems and leaves removed, and fruit crushed. The grape juice is fermented and aged for a set period of time then bottled before being shipped out for distribution. A winery is basically where every part of the process of creating wines takes place once the grapes have finished growing and have been harvested. As explained above, though, a winery is not the same as a vineyard.

It's very common for vineyards and wineries to be at the same location and managed by the same people, but there are many cases where they are separated. There are quite a few small, family-owned vineyards in the world which can't afford to own and run their own wineries, so they ship out their grapes to larger wineries for processing. There are wineries which specialize solely in producing wine from grapes sent to them from smaller vineyards and there are wineries which create wines from both their own grapes and grapes sent to them by others.

Which is Better, a Winery or a Vineyard?

It would be nice if we could immediately tell the quality of a wine based on whether it comes from a winery or a vineyard, but we can't. There are good wineries that produce wine grown on others' vineyards and there are bad wineries that do this. There are good estates which have both wineries and vineyards on the same site and there are bad ones. One setup is not necessarily better or worse than the other. What matters most is your own opinion of the wine when you drink it and that's what you should focus on.

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