The relationship between grape grower and wine producer is a complex and vital one. In some cases, grower and producer are one and the same: as in the famous châteaux of Bordeaux. However, in more cases than we probably realise, the two are separated, with producers buying grapes from growers. Champagne is the classic example: the famous brands own little land in relation to their total production.
This is common practice in the New World. I recently caught up with a friend and Master of Wine, Giles Cooke, who makes wonderful wine in Australia from bought-in grapes. The 2017 season has been tough and he was deciding whether to take cabernet sauvignon from a grower. Quality parameters had not been met, so he was under no obligation. Yet he was still going to: he needed to make wine but also support the grower.
2017 looks to be a torrid year for both parties in Europe as late spring frosts have decimated crops in many regions. Production, and income, will be down for grape growers, while the producers will be paying higher prices. Below are three examples where grower and producer work together to do great things.