ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

If I wanted to plant a vine and create my own wine from home, how many vines would I need to create two to four personal bottles?

—Sam, New Zealand

Dear Sam,

Even though this question requires a couple things I hate—conjecture and math—I’ll see if I can help you out.

As I’ve written before, it takes several clusters of grapes to make a bottle of wine, depending on how big and juicy the grapes are, but let’s say you need somewhere around six or eight clusters just to be safe, or about two and a half pounds of grapes. How many clusters a vine produces depends on a lot of variables, including what kind of grapes you’re growing, how old the vine is and what the weather is like, but you can get 20 to 40 clusters per vine, if the vine is healthy and mature.

All that said, you can probably get about three bottles of wine per grapevine, more or less. I imagine there are some challenges in making that small an amount of wine—I’d make sure you have a strategy for a fermentation container and the like lined up ahead of time, since many home winemaking kits and materials are set up for larger batches. That’s a lot of work to go through for only a few bottles of wine. Be sure to send me one!

—Dr. Vinny


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