The purpose of this paper is to critically review and understand the science of grapes, the process of growing them, maintenance of the vines, harvesting and extracting wine from these grapes (viticulture) especially in Italy. Bottling, storage and transportation of wine are also critical factors to ensure that wine gets to the target consumers in the right manner with the desired taste and aroma. Italy is one of the major wine producers in the world accounting for about 25% of the world’s total production. Introduction
Viticulture was introduced in Italy around 800 B. C by the Greeks. The Romans defeated the Greeks during the battle of Carthage and immediately started growing grapes all over Italy. At that time most of the farms were planted with grapes to an extent that the production of foods crops had drastically reduced and the Emperor of that time ordered mass destruction of vineyards so that foods crops could be grown instead. The fast expansion of the Roman Empire led to introduction of viticulture to their conquered lands which include the present day France and Spain.
The wines produced in Italy during these ancient times had more alcohol content than the wines in the modern times. Discussion Wine taking in Italy dates back to time before the time of Jesus Christ and was an indispensable way of Italian life. In the ancient times wine was used in churches and other religious places. For this reason grapes were grown practically every where in Italy making it the largest wine producer in ancient and modern times. Large scale growth of vines started when the Romans defeated Greeks and drove them from Italy.
Under the Roman law viticulture was not allowed to be introduced to other countries and provinces at the beginning. When grapes were harvested, the Romans exchanged them for slaves who were to work in the vine yards to boost grape production. A variety of grapes have been widely cultivated in Italy since the ancient which led to production of a variety of wines. These varieties either produce red or white wine depending on the process they are exposed to. Red wine is made using the grape fruit as a whole including the skin and seeds while in making the white wine the skin and the seeds are removed.
Viticulture in Italy is greatly enhanced by soils rich in calcium and carbonate, the warm and relatively dry conditions. For a long time Italy has been recognized for producing high quality wine which is available at relatively affordable prices than wine from other producing countries making Italian wines a favorite to many. Wineries in this country are now growing their own grapes rather than buying from small scale farmers ensuring production of high quality wine. This enables them to plan the vine yards accordingly and also make sure that the grapes mature well so that production of quality wine is easily achieved.
By establishing their own vine yards the wineries were assured of better quality wine because they adopted new farming and harvesting techniques maintaining the right concentration of sugars and aroma. Mature grapes are either picked manually or by use of machines in relatively dry weathers which are the best during harvest and then transported to the wineries. In the wineries the grapes are crushed when they are either having the seeds and the outer skin or not resulting to red and white wine respectively.
The juice mixture is left for sometime ranging from a few hours to several weeks after which the juice is squeezed out leaving the other residual behind. The wine yeast is added to enhance fermentation with temperatures being maintained constant for a period of about seven days. The wine is then put in casks or barrels for the aging process after which filtration is done followed by pasteurization and then bottling. New varieties of grape vines resistant to pests are being introduced in Italy to ensure continuous wine production.
In the last few centuries Italy introduced modern techniques in wineries for longer preservation of wine in order to curb competition from France and Spain. The management of the wine industry was nationalized and the number of grape varieties reduced to concentrate on varieties that could be grown in most regions. The government certified most of the wine varieties raising the quality of the wine industry and assuring the consumers that Italian wine was of good quality. Conclusion Viticulture has been a very vital industry in Italy since the ancient times and has tried to maintain this reputation.
Advanced propagation, soil management, protection of grape vine techniques and biodynamic viticulture in Italy are some of the key factors as to why Italy leads other countries in wine production. In Italy wine should not be bottled if it not inspected and approved making sure that the wine is of high quality. Though there have been several challenges including competition and economic challenges this country has remained the largest producer of wine in the world and they are also introducing more measure to maintain this position.
It is evident that a lot remains to be done to ensure that Italian wines remain the number one to consumers. References Ronald, J. Wine Science: Principles and Applications. 3rd Edition. Academic Press, 2008. Tenney, F. An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome. Pageant Books, 1959. Tim, U. Wine and the Vine: A Historical Geography of Viticulture and the Wine Trade. 2nd Edition. Routledge, 1996. Peregrine, H. Nicholas, P. The Corrupting Sea: a study of Mediterranean history. 2nd Edition. Wiley-Blackwell, 2000.