The latest from Zig Zag Rd

Jun 21, 2023

What is the difference between vineyard and winery?

Vinery? Winery? Wineyard?

One of the things I wanted to create when I thought about the experience in our cellar door is for it to be a space where people felt good.

A lot of things were behind that big concept – making people feel good. Partly, it was how we wanted the space to feel as you walk in; how the shape and weight of the wine glasses felt in a tasting; how the height and texture of the upcycled timber bar felt; how we wanted people to feel generally that they were being welcomed when they stepped through the door, whoever they were, wherever they were from, however much they did or didn’t know about wine.

But, importantly, feeling ‘good’ for us was about making sure that people were not made to feel foolish.

The wine world is chock full of pomp; mostly for good reason, sometimes to soothe gigantic egos.

Of course, there is a lot to learn and be curious about in wine; it’s an area where people have astounding jaw-dropping skill and knowledge. Some can make sense of an art and science and put that into a language that needs to be learnt. Although I think this could be true of almost anything on the planet, wine is fabulous and deserves its dedicated devotees, but for various reasons, wine does also seem to attract pomp.

Which is putting it mildly and avoiding expletives.

We weren’t from the wine world just five and half years ago.

Other than helping out a few times here and there during other people’s harvests and vintages, and visiting several wineries in a professional capacity (seriously, not just the tasting rooms), we were not immersed in wine until we bought Zig Zag Rd. Before, when I went to a winery, I wasn’t even sure if I could categorise the difference between vineyard and winery (shocking being that I grew up around agriculture and visited many commercial wineries for work, but this is nevertheless true).
I think I perhaps might have used the word ‘vinery’. (I should insert a grimacing emoji).

The clear difference between a cellar door (where one tastes wine), a winery (where it is made) and a vineyard (where grapes are grown) was not at all clear.
The definitions for some reason confounded my brain; felt too agricultural, inaccessible, sciency even, not to mention that despite enjoying wine and cheese nights (rather too many times in different cities), I learned entirely nothing each time about winemaking, cheese varieties and oh if only I could remember more than it was just red wine that went with that firm goat’s cheese.

And this was not just to do with the inevitable over-indulgence of vino and queso (wine and cheese evenings often being on a Friday at the end of a work week, and being like a teenager in my appetite, I would shove down the proffered cheese and wine as way to sate the post-work hunger that a short cycle through London or Melbourne streets generated, meaning inevitably, every time I was mildly tipsy and altogether in the wrong frame of mind to really learn).

No, it was to do with the fact that I didn’t really have context. I grew up in the UK where vineyards and winemaking and frankly general agriculture eludes most. I hadn’t seen grapes being harvested, pressed and fermented. That simple yet complex magic process that makes wine.

When shown house-height steel vats in South Africa’s famous wine region, Stellenbosch, that contained X wines and were going through Y process, I looked interested, putting on my best intelligent and fascinated face. But behind the mask I was lost, I couldn’t make sense of how grapes turned into wine. They may as well have had Jesus visiting turning water into wine for all I understood of the process.

It wasn’t until I worked at an incredible winery in South Australia, with the excellent Sue Bell (who I will always think of as one of the best women leaders out there in any industry, let alone a sensational winemaker) that I felt the process of wine, the magic of winemaking, come alive, literally.

With hands and feet and plunging and cleaning and midnight ferment-checking, I began to understand and then fall in love with the joy of the fact that little yeasty life forces eat the sweetness from a squashed grape and turn it into wine.

Bit more to it than that, but that was the start of my understanding. And I’m not even astonished at how little I knew. Why should I know about the ins and outs of fermentation?

But back to the vinery.

I don’t think I’m alone, and I don’t say that just to make myself feel better about a rather large boo-boo in my understanding. People regularly ask us at the cellar door, when we are serving up a tasting, if the cellar is the winery, or if the vines are the winery or if its a wineyard and any other number of variations in between.

Thank you to those guests who do ask those questions and for having the courage to question it, instead of just nodding politely if we start talking about winemaking technicalities (which we hopefully only do if asked, as I mostly pointedly avoid this.)

And thanks for reading this first blog, which is really only trying to say that all are welcome at our cellar door, no matter what you do or don’t know about the wildly complex world of wine. And we truly hope you enjoy your tasting not just because of the (sumptuous) wines, but because we sincerely welcome you.