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home > food & wine dictionary > yield

Food and Wine Dictionary

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 yield    [YEELD]

A term used in grape-growing and winemaking circles to express the productivity of a set amount of vineyard land. Yield is a way of comparing the relative productivity of different grape varieties in different locations. In the United States and Australia, grape yield is generally expressed in terms of tons per acre; in Europe and South America, it's expressed in HECTOLITERS per HECTARE. In comparing European yields to U.S. yields, 1 hectoliter of grapes per hectare would be equivalent to .0741 tons of grapes per acre; 1 ton per acre is equivalent to 13.5 hectoliters per hectare. A hecoliter produces approximately 133 bottles or 11.1 cases of wine (a standard bottle is 750 milliliters). A ton of grapes produces about 727 bottles or just over 60 cases of wine. Therefore, a vineyard in France that produces 50 hectoliters of grapes per hectare would be equivalent to one in the United States that produces 3.7 tons of grapes per acre. A U.S. vineyard producing 5 tons per acre is equivalent to a European vineyard producing 67.5 hectoliters per hectare. A 50-hectare vineyard producing 45 hectoliters of grapes per hectare would produce just under 25,000 cases of wine. Yield is important because the higher the yield, the more productive the vines and the more grapes the grower has to sell. However, it's generally agreed that lower yields produce higher-quality wines and that the higher the yield, the more diluted the resulting wine will be. With that in mind, one of the criteria for meeting French APPELLATION D'ORIGINE CONTRÔLÉE (AC) regulations is permissible yield. Each AC area has a maximum allowable yield, depending on the grape variety and quantity of land. Yields are kept down by pruning the vines so that there's an optimum ratio between fruit production and vegetative growth (important for the next year's production). As more is learned about viticultural techniques, higher yields are being achieved without loss of quality. However, it still holds true that higher yields from the same set of vines grown the same way will dilute the concentration in the grapes. Some vineyards in Germany's Rhine and MOSELLE district can yield 100 hectoliters per hectare without loss of quality. On the other hand, in Spain much of the vineyard land is very arid and can't be densely planted because the vines won't get enough moisture. This climate, plus rather antiquated viticultural practices, limits yields in most parts of Spain where the average is around 23 hectoliters of grapes per hectare. In California's coastal areas, where higher quality wines are made, growers expect 3 to 6 tons per acre (equivalent to 40 to 80 hectoliters per hectare), depending on the location and grape variety.

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

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