HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE
There is no doubt about the grapevine's very long history. Traces have been found indicating its existence even before the Ice Age.
The grapevine grows well in only in very specific climactic conditions. It can't survive below freezing temperatures nor very high altitudes.
Even with these limitations, grapevines are grown almost in almost every part of the world, in an area of over 10 million square kilometers. Over 70% of this land is in Europe, 10% in America, about 15% in Asia, and the remaining 5% in Africa and Australia.
Grapevines are cultivated in various ways. The preferred method in very hilly or barren areas is called "Guyot." The result is a low stalked plant with two-budded boughs with a fruit of six or seven buds. On the other hand, in very fertile areas where the vine growth must be controlled, "small tree cultivation" is used. This produces a vine with a low stalk and several spurs.
Other cultivation systems include the so-called "two-way upside down system," the "spurred rope" system (often used because the vine can be cultivated without a complex scaffolding system), the "Sylvoz," and the "Arbour" which uses an extensive system of stakes.
In both the Veneto region of Italy and in Southern Italy one very commonly used method is referred to as "plants on a curtain." In this system the vine is cultivated on a type of net which is held about two meters from the ground on a series of poles.
Grapevines have an annual cycle that starts in the Spring with the "crying of the vine," when the vine releases a liquid. The "crying" signals the start of a new cycle of activity.
When the climate becomes more gentle and the average temperature is about 10 degrees celcius, the budding phase begins. The vine-branches mature in this phase which ends after the first half of August.
In an average season, the grapes vine begins to blossom at the beginning of June. For each bunch of grapes it lasts for six or seven days. This period coincides with the impollination and development of the grapes.
Then the grapes start to mature rapidly. The sugar content increases and their percentage of water drops.
Then, from the end of August, the vine takes a much-needed rest and prepares for the next yearly cycle.