History of Wine — Cultivation (2)
In the past, land desired for agriculture used to be exposed to abundant amounts of sunlight and rain. However, Carlos Falcó says that the same results can be obtained through drip irrigation and “canopy management”, which is another term for “vineyard management”. This viticulture strategy can increase production sixfold, but it is not allowed by Community regulations, since it could cause an excess of wine. For this reason, vineyard trellising, a common practice that increases production, is very restricted.
The European Union suggests that each nation’s traditional vineyards are usually the best for producing wine or brandy, given the characteristics of the atmosphere and soil. Vineyards are usually uprooted when they reach thirty or forty years of age. The analogy of George’s razor applies here: you can change the handle and the blade, but the vineyard remains the same. This means that old vines are replaced gradually and not all at once. Article 1656 of the Spanish Civil Code mentions the Catalan idea of “raabassa morta”, which literally translates to “dead root”.
This agreement includes the transfer of a plot of land for the cultivation of vines with the condition that it lasts as long as the original vines survive. Grapes are considered to have perished when two-thirds of them have died. By replacing dead vines with new ones and shoring them up, the vineyard can last forever. Unless there is a different agreement, the vineyard is supposed to come to an end after fifty years, ending the contract.
Winemaking has many parallels with the craftsmanship of stained glass and porcelain, and the art of viticulture dates back to Columella’s studies. Nowadays it is not feasible for us to make these products “as badly” as the old artisans did, with all their flaws, small holes and bubbles. However, that is part of the appeal. Cork is not the optimal method for sealing a package, but it is difficult to replace. It has been revealed that the best container for wine is a “tetrabrick”, but sommeliers are unlikely to serve their wine in one and then open it with a screw cap.
When we have dinner at a restaurant, it’s as if we were going back in time and sharing our food with some historical figures. One of them is the sommelier, who wears a necklace with a wine cooler and an attached key to show that he is in charge of the winery and that he has authority over it after the owner.