I have always been intrigued with the grape leaves. While identifying grapevines seems easy, when it comes to identifying the grapevine variety by the leaf, it seems almost mysterious. However, there is a field of science, ampelography where students learn to identify grape varieties by the leaf. If you visit many vineyards, you will notice that the leaf shapes of grapevines do vary as well as the color of the leaves and the stems.
Perhaps the most well known ampelographer is Pierre Galet in France who devised a systematic approach to identifying grape vines. He wrote a book on the subject, “Ampélographie Pratique” published in the early 1950s.
A winery in Napa Valley is now offering a class for anyone interested in this area of grapevines. St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery has set up an Ampelography Master Class. Participants in the class will learn to identify varieties by their leaves. After returning to the winery, the class will enjoy more wines paired with small bites.
The 45 to 60 minute class includes a brief tutorial before a visit to the Ampelography Vineyard. Only six participants are in each class. This mini ampelography class sounds perfect to get a hands-on feel for identifying grape varieties by the leaf.
The next time I visit Napa Valley, I hope to take part in the Ampelography class at St. Supery.
Read our article about our first to St. Supery here.