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Grape Buying
Erin K. Sullivan

The more wineries I visit, the more I become very aware of the loss of quality in wine due to grape buying. Grape buying is the process where wineries purchase grapes from a supplier who has previously purchased the grapes from other wineries with overflowing crops. Grape buying has been a common practice for wineries when their crops do not yield enough grapes for the season’s demands.  Many times a winery will buy grapes from a neighbor or somewhere within the same climate and region.  Grape buying on this level is an understandable practice as it is impossible to predict how well a certain grape may do for an entire season.

Grape buying however has gotten out of hand.  Some wineries are buying grapes from not only other states, but also other countries and different climates.  Wineries sometimes do not even know where the grapes are from! This takes away from the quality of the wine for many reasons.  There is a certain art in seeing through with the wine making process from start to finish.  Everything from nurturing the soil, to singing (yes singing!) to the grapes can affect the quality and taste of a wine.  More importantly however, is the fact that when a winery buys grapes from across the world, the grape in no way acts the same as their own which could seriously change the outcome of the wine.Charmene DeMay from Chateau Renaissance in the Finger Lakes region of New York, explains it like this, “When you open a bottle of wine (especially those that use natural fermentation), you first smell the scent of the region the wine is from.  For example, a bottle of Cabernet Franc from the south of France will give off a lovely lavender scent, while a bottle of Cabernet Franc from Australia may give off the scent of eucalyptus instead.”

When a winery buys their grapes from all around the world, the drinker misses out on all of the unique tastes that make a glass of wine not only a work of art, but also a drink full of distinct tastes from a region that are impossible to replicate.  In a way, it is almost as if the purity of the wine has been compromised.

I know that there are winemakers who would argue that the art is in the actual making of the wine and that it does not matter where the grapes come from.  Yes, wine making itself is an art, but it is so much deeper when the grapes come from the same region.  When a wine comes from grapes solely from the same region, you can taste the different complexities of the climate, the soil, and the land itself.


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