The behind-the-scenes workers of quality wine

9 November 2021

When we think of a great wine, we usually think of its producer and the place where the wine comes from. Two essential factors. What many people don't know is that behind all this there are a series of outside jobs that also contribute to the wine's final quality. Today we bring you closer to the most unknown side of wine, to all those people and companies that contribute to the development of a great wine although they never appear in the final credits, or in the marketing and communication campaigns.

These are some of the people whose work contributes to making wine great:

Soil analyst

This is the person in charge of studying the soils where the plants will be grown. It is undoubtedly one of the most important things to do when starting quality wine production, and also one of the most expensive to do, as the vineyards are usually spread over several different sites, which implies different soil studies. Understanding the soil is essential, as a large number of decisions will have to be made based on its nature: variety of grapes grown, cultivation method, vineyard orientations, etc.

Garden centre nurseryman

Perhaps the least talked about, but whose work is essential. A nurseryman, apart from offering you the type of plant you need and reproducing it as many times as necessary, also advises the winemaker in making decisions. Many nurserymen have among their ranks professionals in ampelography, a science that is responsible for the identification and classification of the different kinds of grapes. These professionals interpret the information provided by the winery and advise them in the choice of the type of grape variety to plant according to the soil and climate, and also the type of clone to choose, i.e. more resistant to drought, more productive, less sensitive to certain diseases. This part is undoubtedly the least talked about in the world of wine, because nobody is interested in talking about clones 235 or 420.

The most prestigious nurseries are so because they have their own clonal selection with certain agronomic or oenological parameters. These parameters are built up slowly, as they come from a meticulous preliminary study in which one or more mother vines with specific characteristics are chosen, to then carry out a vegetative multiplication that gives rise to plants with an identical genetic content. All this work is usually aimed at obtaining high quality grapes, a genetic selection where the best plants are chosen and reproduced. Some producers bring plants from their best vineyards for the nursery to reproduce them. It is a world that is frankly interesting and unknown to the general public.


Companies specialised in vineyard planting

Many of these tasks are carried out by nurseries, either through themselves or by contracting other companies that will be in charge of growing the plants that have been previously developed in the nursery. These companies usually follow the criteria of the winery's viticulturist, who, with information on the slope of the plot, knowledge of the prevailing winds, solar incidence on the plot, and the flow of water on rainy days, will decide on the training system (trellis, goblet, lyra...) and its orientation, more exposed to the afternoon or the morning sun.


Perhaps the least aesthetic part, but if well used, it can help to obtain a great wine. There are many ways of looking at the work of these companies. There are products of all kinds, with a wide variety of objectives; to give the wine more structure, to enhance its oily palate and even yeasts that enhance certain flavours and aromas. As you can imagine, the most quality-oriented wineries do not usually use elements that modify the character of the grape in the wine, but they can use some of their products that do not alter the essence of their site and their plants, such as the development of neutral yeasts or the reproduction of their own native yeasts, those that come naturally to their vineyards. Some houses don't want to leave it to the mercy of the wind that a "bad" yeast arrives in the vineyard one year, so they turn to these companies to ensure that their yeast and the whole fermentation process goes smoothly and gives the aromas and flavours that their vineyard always gives.

Barrel makers


This role has perhaps the greatest impact on the end consumer's knowledge of wine. For years the wineries' discourse was focused on spreading its use in wine, sometimes even in an absurd competition to see who could age the longest in barrels, and all this with very high levels of toasting. Fortunately, those years have passed and the use of wood is becoming more and more precise and millimetric, although it is still easy to find wines with great excesses. The wineries that are most focused on obtaining great wines devote a lot of resources and time to selecting the barrels they are going to use. From the type of wood, its grain, its size, the level of toasting inside and even the manufacturer, everything is chosen. The wide range of barrel producers is a great help to the winemaker, and the work of wood selection requires a lot of time and knowledge.

Corker producers

Sometimes it seems that we don't give it much importance, but behind a great wine there is always a great cork. At least if it is a wine with the prospect of ageing for a long time. This closure, which is so much our own -Spain and Portugal are the world's leading producers- has a strong influence on premium wine, as it favours a small amount of micro-oxygenation over the years. Defining the quality level of the cork, its size and its coating are factors that, although we may not realise it, will help the wine to meet its quality expectations and not disrupt them.  


    Written by Redacción

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