Of Vineyards and Dashed Dreams

      January 13th, 2009

Wine GrapesI recently came to the conclusion that my place in life was to start a vineyard and tend to it. I would care for each individual grape and produce small quantities of (hopefully) great wine. That’s not to say that I’m not hammering out a great living as a web content maestro, but I have felt the need to reconnect to the soil. Get my hands dirty.

Of course, not being independently wealthy, finances would play a role. We’re talking just a small scale operation here, no economies of scale, no mass production, no greed. I figured we’d go for production of less than 1000 bottles per annum. I’m actually in the process of house hunting, so I figured I’d look for a place a bit more remote with some suitable land for a micro-vineyard.

The first dagger to the heart of my plan came when some initial research revealed pretty steep barriers to entry. Some of the equipment involved in modern winemaking is expensive, but being the spontaneous guy I am, what really hurt was that I would need five years before I could get a crop going which would produce decent wine. I don’t really like to plan more than six months in advance, and that was kind of a deal breaker. I also didn’t want to buy someone else’s vineyard. That sounded lame and can also be very pricey.

I did, however, come across some interesting factual tidbits during my research. Apparently, winemaking has a few things in common with apple preservation. As discussed in “Principles and Practices of Winemaking” by Boulton, Singleton, Bisson, and Kunkee, winemaking is quite the CO2 intensive activity. Around 40 years ago, you’d have one dead guy per vintage in California as a result of said fellow “entering fermentors or confined spaces containing (or recently drained of) active alcoholic yeast fermentations and not adequately ventilated”. Unconsciousness apparently occurs rapidly with brain death following soon thereafter.

That book goes into all kinds of technical detail about how much carbon dioxide is produced with different kinds of wines and also describes how modern vineyards with carbon dioxide detectors make this a pretty moot point these days. Regardless, given that carbon dioxide has no scent, unknowingly walking into a room that will kill you, is kind of a scary idea.

Thoughts to ponder before you uncork that bottle of wine tonight.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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Filed under: Food, Safety, Science by A.B.

One Response to “Of Vineyards and Dashed Dreams”

  1. Very interesting read

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