What Is a Winery?
There are a lot of fun facts, history, and specifics you can learn about wine. From wine pairing information and the best wine list options to the vast history of wine, the list goes on and on. It all revolves around the question of: "What is a winery?" and the winery definition. The word winery carries a lot of weight in the world of wine.
There are people who dedicate their lives to learning about wine and joining the court of master sommeliers. There are also lots of folks who love wine, and who want to learn a bit more about the wines they enjoy. Even if that doesn't quite mean taking sommelier classes all the time.
Wherever you fall on those interest levels, there’s one thing you’re sure to be curious about: wineries. Naturally, anyone who loves wine wants to learn at least a bit more about the places wines come from. Whether you're looking into buying a winery or you just want to buy some great wine, it never hurts to learn more.
Of course, you might be saying “Doesn’t wine come from vineyards too?” Well, that’s correct, but we wouldn’t have wine without both wineries and vineyards. Today we’ll examine both as we learn all about wineries, vineyards, how wine comes about, and the best things to know about wineries.
What Is a Winery Owner Called?
A winery owner can have several titles depending on the structure of the winery. There are wineries owned by companies, small family wineries, and small business wineries.
A notable example of a complicated winery owner situation is the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. With a name like that, you’d assume Coppola owns the business, and in part, you’d be right.
That said, a part of the Coppola Winery collection of label names and vineyards was purchased by Delicato Family Wines in 2021. All that means, in a way, is that the Coppola Winery name is owned by several people and companies.
That got a little complicated. It goes to show that the question of “What is a winery owner called?” doesn’t have a straightforward answer. Instead of trying to give a simple answer, we’ll give you a few answers about winemakers and winery owners to clear it up.
Winery Owner Terms
When you look into winery owners, there are several terms and titles you’ll discover. Those terms are:
- Winemaker: Often the winery owner, or someone employed by the business to oversee the winemaking process.
- Vintner: Typically the same as a winemaker. There may, however, be differences in the roles in different wineries.
- Vigneron: Generally the Vigneron is the winemaker of a vineyard, however, this can change depending on global location.
- Négociant: The négociant is a person who coordinates the work of multiple small wineries and sells the wine under their name.
- Viticulturist: A viticulturist is someone who studies the growing of grapes to make wine. They can be a winery owner, but typically they work at wineries.
Technically, a winery owner could be several of those folks. Most likely, a winery owner is a winemaker or vintner. If you’re curious about your favorite winery, dive into it. There’s a lot of interesting information about different wineries, their owners, and their connections to the wider wine world.
What Is a Vineyard?
We’ll dive into the winery definition shortly, but first, we’ll go through “What is a vineyard?” The two are intrinsically inter-vined in the winemaking process (see what we did there?).
In fact, sometimes a vineyard and a winery are on the same plot of land as a combined business. However, that’s not always the case.
Specifically, a vineyard is the place where grapes are grown. On a base level, that’s really all a vineyard is. In some ways, a vineyard is a plantation for wine. It's the property that produces wine. A vineyard can be a large area or a smaller one. It depends on the company behind the wine that is produced at that vineyard.
That said, when people think of vineyards, they often think of the place where grapes are grown, processed into wine, and sold. That line of thought is what starts to take us into the differences between a winery and a vineyard.
What Is the Difference Between a Winery and a Vineyard?
A winery is the place where the grapes grown in a vineyard are sent to be made into wine. A winery is the place for processing, aging, bottling, and distributing wine.
In addition, a winery is also often the place where people can go for tours and wine tastings. Oftentimes, the winemaker or someone else with a vast knowledge of wine will lead the tastings to teach guests about the wine, with information about wine legs, tasting techniques, and more. A winery is a licensed business with the legal ability to sell the wines produced there.
From the perspective of different activities at each location, a winery and a vineyard are completely different. That said, the two terms are often used interchangeably. That's because a lot of winemaking companies have their vineyard and their winery on the same land. Tasting rooms are often a stepping stone into a vineyard. As the vineyard workers produce wine from grapes and get settled into the bottling line, that wine goes straight into those tasting rooms.
Sometimes winery tours will even include a tour of the vineyard (and maybe a wine rack display or cellar tour). While there are differences, it’s easy to understand why the two words can be mixed up sometimes. The winery and vineyard definition will always be two terms that are closely related.
Since most folks visit a winery to taste some wine, you might expect the hours to be later in the day. That’s not necessarily the case.
Often, you’ll find wineries open for tastings starting at 10am or 11am, and going into the early to mid-afternoon. Wineries do need some off hours, too, to handle their own wine inventory and keep tastings running smoothly.
For some wineries, late afternoon and evening hours are held for special events, both private events and events the winery sponsors. Sponsored events can include occasions like:
- Speed dating
- Game nights
… and other social events. Many wineries can also be reserved for weddings, birthdays, and other celebratory occasions.
How to Work at a Winery
If you’re interested in working at a winery, maybe in Napa Valley, Oregon, or somewhere else in the United States, the process for finding a job is similar to finding any other type of employment. You can find winery jobs via job boards and career websites such as:
- Google for Jobs
When searching for a winery job, sometimes the best thing to do is reach out to wineries directly. While some wineries are large companies that post on job boards, there are plenty of smaller wineries that might not post as frequently.
This is where networking comes in handy. The more connections you can build in the wine industry, the more likely you’ll be to hear when a job is available. You can also look into bar interview questions to prepare yourself for learning about wine.
Frequently Asked Questions About What Is a Winery
Of course, all that information about wineries and vineyards is still just an overview. There is so much you can learn if you dig into specific wineries and the winemaking process. There are a few frequently asked questions about wineries that we’ll answer, to get the ball rolling on your journey of learning more about wineries.
What Is the Most Popular Winery?
Answering the question of the most popular winery is no easy feat. This is a question that people all across the world would be able to hold quite the debate on. Some folks would say the best winery would be in France, some would say Italy, some would say Spain. Some of the wine movies you've seen have been filmed in these countries.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll narrow the search to California. For your average wine drinker, California wine is always a good choice, and of all the wineries in Cali, Beringer Vineyard is the best. Beringer is the oldest continually operating winery in Cali (this puts it in the same league as the oldest bars), and if you’re a fan of wine, you’re familiar with Beringer.
What Is the Biggest Winery?
The biggest winery (according to internet research) is E&J Gallo Winery, which has been around since 1933. E&J’s boasts 80 labels and 20,000 acres of vineyards all across wine country in California.
Where Is the World’s Largest Vineyard?
This is another question that’s hard to nail down an answer for. For the purposes of this article, we’ll settle on European vineyards for this question, as a lot of expansive wine land is in Europe.
The largest vineyard in Europe (and it ranks highly on a global scale, too) is Plantaze in Montenegro. Plantaze covers more than 5,700 acres, all dedicated to the growth of some truly amazing grapes for wine.
Winery Definition: It’s a Grape Workplace!
So, what is a winery? Well, if you didn't know before, you've got a better idea of what a winery is now. The definition is, on its own, something pretty simple–a place where wine is made.
It's the idea behind wineries, and all the work that goes into making the wine we love that makes the winery definition so interesting. Whether you’re looking to become a sommelier or you just want to know more about wine, there’s always something new to learn.