Making Wine

P. 338

How does food get from the farm to the table in France? Many people work in industries that convert farm produce to food that is ready for the table. They convert sugar beets to sugar, wheat to flour, milk to cheese and fruit to jam. They make ham and sausages from pigs, cereals from grains and bread from flour and other products. They also make wine from grapes.

1. Planting and tending the grapevines: Farmers in the southern two thirds of France plant grapevines. They carefully select the type of grape according to the climate of the region and the type of wine they want to produce. The vines must be carefully tended and protected from frost and hail. They must not get too much rain or too little. Each year the weather determines how good the wine for that year will be.

2. Harvesting the grapes: In late summer, the ripe grapes are picked by hand. They must be picked at just the right time so that they will not be too bitter or too sweet. The grapes are taken by cart to a central collecting place. From there they go to the winery. Some wineries are huge, producing hundreds of thousands of litres of wine a year. Some are small, producing only a few hundred bottles of the best and most expensive wine.

3. Crushing the grapes: At the winery, the grapes are crushed to obtain the grape juice that is the basis of wine. At one time, this job was done by hand-or foot. Now machines do the job.

4. Producing the wine: Some wines are made from the juices of several different kinds of grapes. The best are made from one type of grapes from one part of the vineyard. These wines may cost $100 a bottle or more. The wine the average French person drinks costs less than $5 a bottle.

5. Taking the wine to market: Once it is bottled, the wine may rest at the winery until it is at the best possible age to be drunk. In most cases, however, it is shipped immediately to markets around the world. The same type of wine may end up on the Bernards' table in France and on your family's table in Canada.