You know the wines, but how well do you know the vines? If you can’t name the eight—yes, eight—parts of a typical wine grape vine, it’s time to take some notes. We promise, it’s not as dull as it sounds. Why take a closer look? Your understanding of how the terroir (the unique combination of sun, soil and water of a region) affect each aspect of the vines will give you a deeper appreciation for the vino in your glass—not to mention all the hard work put in by the vineyard manager and his or her team. Want one more nifty reason to refresh your vine anatomy? Two words: Wow them. Yes, you will totally impress your fellow wine tasters on your next vineyard tour!
Before we jump into the vine anatomy, let’s look at some Paso Wines crafted from spectacular Paso Robles Vineyards
Allegretto Wine’s easy drinking 2015 Tannat and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon is made from the sprawling vines that surround the Allegretto tasting room as well as from the nearby Willow Creek District. View them while you taste, or book a stay at the winery’s Allegretto Vineyard Resort. Yes, they also have an on-site restaurant! Enjoy.
Get quick, easy directions to Allegretto, click here
Bodega de Edgar’s flavorful Spanish single varietal wines and bold blends are always produced by sourcing the highest quality Paso Robles fruit from across many stellar vineyards, while still maintaining an affordable price point. Incredible vines don’t always have to mean a huge price tag.
Get quick, easy directions to Bodega de Edgar, click here
Brecon Estate is known for its singular Bordeaux wines that shine with distinct elegance. With some of the first plantings in the Adelaida district by one of the pioneers of the region, the winemaker produces Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon, converted and dry-farmed. It’s true: these vines have not been irrigated for four years, yet the vines naturally produce 2.5 tons to the acre. Talk about stressed fruit with fabulous flavor!
Get quick, easy directions to Brecon, click here
Cass Winery’s Bordeaux and Rhone style wines are a perfect reflection of their microclimate. The Cass Estate Vineyard is located in the Geneseo District sub-AVA southeast of Paso Robles, exemplifying the region’s warm days, cool coastal breezes, and exceptional soils. Resting at 900 feet of elevation, the 145-acre vineyard is planted to a dozen varieties on a large terrace above the Huer Huero River. Deposited over centuries, the diverse alluvial (or river) soils make for an expressive site that produces fruit of incredible quality.
Get quick, easy directions to Cass, click here
Chronic Cellars is all about playing with the best, or as the winery’s two winemaking brothers like to say, “chronic” grapes to make seriously good wine. To do that, they source from a range of respectable Paso Robles vineyards—just don’t ask them to name names. As it turns out, growing up a Paso Robles local has its perks, like knowing all the best grape growers in the area! Of course, these guys just call them “neighbors.” Must be nice.
Get quick, easy directions to Chronic, click here
Onward to the anatomy of a grape vine!
It all starts at the roots. You might have already guessed that the roots play a staring roll in great grape vines. Well, you’re right there! Like all plants, the rarely seen roots do the very important work of bringing nutrients—and precious water—up from the soil. Vines grow to various depths into the soil depending on the variety (rootstock), soil and climate. Some varieties develop very deep and almost vertical roots, while others (like table grapes) have a flat and shallow roots system and therefore require deep, fertile soil. Typical Paso Robles wine grapes are “stressed,” meaning they work hard to survive in sandy, rocky and clay soil types. In order to find the nutrients and water the plant needs to survive, the roots must search deeper and deeper into the soil. This is not a bad thing, and you’ll taste why. The result? Far more concentrated grape flavor.
Trunk – Like the trunk of the tree, this hardened stem is a permanent home for vines and branches that develop above and all around it. The trunk is permanent and sturdy—as it should be, as all of the above-ground vegetative (leaves and stems) and reproductive (flowers and fruits) depend on it. The height of the trunk and also its branches, shoots, and canes vary dramatically depending on the selected training system.
Canes – When a vine’s shoots mature and become woody, you can start calling them “canes.” The health and happiness of these canes are always a big concern for winegrowers during the dormant season. When pruning the canes in winter, winegrowers must think ahead several months to what kind of vine canopy size and shape they desire for the wines they’ll produce. These small but important decisions will control the quality of the crop in the coming season.
A side note on training systems and canes: What exactly is a training system, you ask? Think of the way you might train a house or garden plant that curls along your bookshelf or fence. In a cane-pruned training system, the top of the trunk is called the head. A fully developed trunk has arms—short branches from which canes and spurs originate. Depending on a selected training system, arms are located in different positions, and this will affect the amount of vegetative growth going forward. With a training system that utilizes cordons (cordon training with spur pruning), arms are spaced at regular intervals along their length. OK, what are “cordons?” (This is getting a tad long-winded, we know). They are simply extensions of the trunk that usually grow horizontally along a trellis wire.
Buds – Everyone’s favorite, right? Every spring, buds develop, and so does the promise of a new vintage. These buds pop up in what is called the “leaf axil,” right above the connection between the shoot and “leaf petiole.” Inside each bud, you will find three distinct growing points, each capable of producing a shoot, also known as primary, secondary and tertiary buds. Want to know something really wild? A bud is actually a highly compressed shoot with all its parts, including grape cluster. At “bud burst” or “bud break,” the primary bud begins to grow, but sometimes also secondary or tertiary buds, do too. This is something the winemaker will look at very closely as the fruit develops. If the primary bud is damaged or freezes, the secondary or tertiary buds will grow in place of the primary bud (grape insurance).
Shoots – You know this one, right? These are the green stems which develop from buds, and represent the primary growth structure of grapevines. The shoots that arise from primary (winter) buds are normally the fruit-producing shoots. The shoot consists of stems, leaves, tendrils and fruits. Sure, you’ve heard the term “canopy” thrown around—but what does it actually mean? This is a handy collective term that is used to describe the shoots, leaves, and fruits of the grapevine.
Leaves – Don’t skip this one! The leaves of the grapevine, as any other plant, provide nourishment and air—which is crucial for quality. Leaves are busybodies, always converting sunlight into usable energy for the plant. More leaves + more sun = more organic compounds the grapevine can use for its growth. However, too many leaves can be a big problem (review: pruning). The shape and size of the eaves are determined by the grapevine variety—as well as color, which varies from light to dark green.
Tendrils – These are the beautiful, slender curlycue structures that appear on the top and sides of stems (and what photographers love to capture when grape clusters burst forth). They grow until the grapevine is ready for harvest (after the harvest, they become wooden in nature). Since the grapevine is a climbing plant, it needs many tendrils to coil around small objects such as fences and trellises. These tiny “hands” help the plant reach up toward the sun.
Flowers and Grapes – Yes, flowers, but not the kind you might think. Flower clusters grow on one side of the shoot and leaves along the other. Most fruitful shoots develop from one to three flower clusters, depending on the variety and growing conditions. Each cluster may contain only a few or up to several hundred flowers at the time of bloom! That number (as usual) depends on the variety and environment, or terroir. When fertilized, the flower clusters develop into clusters of grapes. How exciting! From this “fruit set,” the grapes (or berries) as they are called, start to grow.
This blog is written by flavor fiend Hayley Cain. Follow her @flavorslo on Instagram or at astoldbyhayley.com.
Looking for a place to stay in Paso Robles?
The Adelaide Inn is an iconic, locally owned hotel known for its friendly staff and lush landscaping. With spacious rooms and a convenient location close to highway 101 and the event center – home of the California Mid-State Fair – this hotel is a great choice for most travelers. TOUR VIRTUALLY
Majestically set among vineyards, olive groves and fruit baring orchards, the 20-acre Allegretto Vineyard Resort is a world unto itself, offering breathtaking settings that inspire and bring joy to all who choose this memorable wine country haven. Featuring 171 rooms and suites, on-site spa, grand ballroom, wine tasting room, and inspired culinary creations at Cello, the resort’s full service restaurant.
Wouldn’t you love to wake up among the vines? Eden House at Carriage Vineyards Bed & Breakfast is on a real working vineyard and longhorn ranch in the Paso Robles Wine Region. Our rooms overlook vineyards, creeks and oaks, right in the Paso Robles Wine Country of Central California.
Spend an idyllic getaway at Briarwood Cottage at ONX Estate Vineyards in an English-cottage inspired vineyard-side home. Guests may rent rooms in the main cottage, reserve the entire main cottage for a large group, or book the fully equipped apartment. Wake up to peaceful vineyard views and spend twilight hours sipping wine on the back porch of the cottage. It’s a time you won’t quickly forget. Contact us for pricing and availability (see form below). Case, 6 Bottle, and 4 Bottle Collective Members receive preferred pricing.
Hampton Inn & Suites Paso Robles is nestled in the Central Coast wine region, home to over 200 wineries, beautiful beaches, mountains and diverse attractions. Relax and revive in a comfortable guest room with all you need for a successful stay. You can count on Hampton to deliver value, consistency and service with a smile. We love having you here®
Treat yourself to the ultimate Paso Robles wine country experience by booking your stay at The Inn at Opolo Vineyards. Guests enjoy our luxurious, spacious rooms and all of the sensory pleasures of Paso Robles in one destination. TOUR VIRTUALLY
Enjoy the elegance, style and natural beauty of California’s Central Coast at the JUST Inn®. Surrounded by vineyards, our JUST Inn Suites offer luxurious appointments like fireplaces, Tempur-Pedic®mattresses, Frette linens, hydro-spa tubs, and range in size from 600–1,200 square feet. An overnight stay includes breakfast and a tour of the winery and caves. TOUR VIRTUALLY
La Bellasera Hotel & Suites is an elegant boutique hotel nestled in the heart of Central Coast Wine Country. Influenced by Mediterranean and Italian architecture, the luxurious accommodations reflect the aged sophistication of the Central Coast region and the relaxed nature of the California countryside.
Experience the pristine countryside of Paso Robles Wine Country at Lekai Ranch. Lounge on the porch of your private suite and lose yourself in the tranquility and stunning views of the vineyards and oak studded hills beyond. This vacation rental is located just minutes from some of the most distinguished wineries and a premier olive oil estate, and only 15 minutes from downtown Paso Robles’ restaurants, wineries and shopping. TAKE AN AERIAL TOUR
Paso Robles Vacation Rentals, also known as PasoStay.com assists guests in creating memories and wonderful experiences by providing quality privately owned vacation home rentals in Paso Robles Wine Country. With over 90 vacation homes to choose from, small enough for a couple’s romantic getaway to large homes amongst local vineyards and olive orchards, PasoStay.com has the perfect option for you. Feel free to call 805-423-9174 to talk with a local expert or book online at PasoStay.com.