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Have you ever sat back, most likely while enjoying a few glasses of wine to get those inquisitive juices flowing, and wondered or asked...
“How many grapes did it take to make this wine?”
To answer this question we must begin by defining the terms that will be useful in comparing wine grapes to the liquid that ends up going into the bottle. It helps to look at how wine grapes are sold from farmers to wine makers, which is in tons of grapes. Putting this concept into your mind first helps in understanding the context of how wine makers calculate their case-projections and is how most wineries think of their final product.
Farmers have direct control of their vineyard’s grape yields and they make many decisions based on the goal of maximizing their output without sacrificing quality. For that reason, some vineyard managers in certain cases might choose to crop their grape yield to 1 ton per acre, while others push the limits and go for more quantity, ultimately getting 8 tons or more per acre, depending on the varietal. On average, the highest quality wine grapes that can be produced per acre is approximately 3 tons. To provide more context, if you aren’t a farmer or a QB in the NFL, an acre is a little smaller than an American football field.
Now the stage is set in terms of answering our original question, let’s get to the bottom of it!
It is not exact, but wine makers have learned that It takes 1 ton of grapes to produce 155 gallons of finished wine. And for those 155 gallons of wine there are a total of 65 cases, and at 12 bottles per case, that equals 780 bottles of wine per ton of grapes.
Ok, we're throwing around a whole lot of weights and measures here, but some focus on the above facts will help us proceed. If we define one bottle as representing 1/780 of a ton of grapes, that’s approximately 0.13% of a ton. So, if your vineyard acre produces 3 tons of grapes, and each ton weighs 2,000 lbs, then each bottle contains about 2.6 pounds of grapes.
The last leg of this problem is figuring out how many grapes are in a pound? That number fluctuates based on specific varietals, but on average a fully wine ripe grape berry clocks in at about 1.6 grams. Since we know that one ounce of grapes is equal to 28 grams we can calculate that it takes about 17.7 berries to equal one ounce. Because one pound is 16 ounces, it will take about 283 grapes to make up a pound. Finally, because we found out earlier that each bottle of wine contains 2.6 lbs of grapes and we just proved that 283 berries were in each pound, then we can say that it takes about 736 grapes to produce a single bottle of wine.
BINGO! That means that each 5oz glass of wine that you enjoy, takes about 147 grapes to get you feeling footloose and fancy free, which in our mind is a heck of a lot more fun than eating those 147 grapes.
Next time you pop open a bottle of wine and recall this small fun fact, you may ponder and appreciate each sip just a little bit more.