Wine book reviews
The Grapevine: from the science to the practice of growing vines for wine
By Patrick Iland, Peter Dry, Tony Proffitt, Steve Tyerman

This textbook on the science of the grapevine is a must have for students of wine, as well as interested wine geeks

Back in 2005, when I wrote my first book, Wine Science, there was a real shortage of good books on viticulture. So I was thrilled when this textbook appeared at the beginning of this year, and I've been dipping in and out of it since. Now time to review it.

It's authored by four Australian viticultarists, all with PhDs: Patrick Iland, a former lecturer; Peter Dr, a retired associate professor and now a consultant; Tony Proffitt, another ex-lecturer now working as aviticultural consultant; and Steve Tyerman, a professor at the University of Adelaide. The calibre of the authors lends instant credibility. 

The book is self-published by Iland, but is nicely produced in full colour, well laid out, and illustrated very well - I particularly like some of the schematics. It is data-based and fully referenced, but not hard to read. The layout of the book makes it easy to find information, and there's a functional index (although it doesn't look like it has been made by an experienced indexer). 

It begins with the structure and function of the vine, then looks at how the vine grows. There's extensive coverage on the development of flowers and fruitset, and this then leads to a discussion of photosynthesis and the development of the berry. A topic given quite a bit of space is vine water relations, a subject especially relevant to Australia, where irrigation is so important. There's also discussion of climate and its effects on the vine. 

The focus on experimental results and proper research is the strength of the book, but also perhaps a slight weakness. As a wine geek, I'd love more on some of the topics that really get the world of fine wine worked up, such as minerality, terroir, why old vines make better wines, biodynamics and so on. But this isn't possible if you are sticking to the science, simply because these topics haven't been researched properly. For example, there's a short discussion on biodynamics, but it simply lists the studies that have so far been carried out, from which very little can be concluded. You have to respect the authors for not going beyond the data.  

Overall, though, this is a brilliant book. If you are studying for your MW, or working with vines, you really should buy it, even though it is not cheap. I have already learned a great deal from it. 

To Buy:

A$165 From the publisher

Back to book review section
Older book reviews

Back to top