Grape to Glass: Rootstock
Every box of raisins is a tragic story of grapes that could have been wine.
Every year, vineyards here in California and across the globe cycle through the seasons that culminate in the happiest of times – harvest. Each wine grower’s hard work, from grape harvesting to wine aging, is essential to making our favorite treat at the end of the day.
But how exactly do grapes become the wonderful wines we love? We created the graphic below to help explain each step of the winemaking process, from grape to glass.
Each season, we’ll present a different step in the process, so stay tuned for more – much more!
First up: Rootstock!
Believe it or not, most grapes don’t grow well from seeds.
Grapes, like apples, grow best through clonal methods. A clonal method is when the grower grafts – or merges – a scion with an existing rootstock.
The rootstock already has the healthy root system. It’s a grapevine that’s already growing in the ground. The scion is the plant that grows best above ground. The scion would be chosen because it has the fruit or the flowers that the grower wants. In our case, it would be a specific type of wine grape.
When we try to grow grapes from seeds, we find that it can take years to grow – and that most seeds don’t even take. Each grape seed holds genetic info from both parents. Here, by parents, we mean the flowering plant and the plant that provided the pollen. That means each new plant would be completely different from both the parent seeds.
Grafting the scion on the rootstock is a reliable way to make sure we get the best qualities for our grapes, and wine.
After a few weeks both plants grow together, making a single plant. The fruit will always have the genetics of both plants – the rootstock and the scion.
Next: Bud Break. Stay tuned!