The Difference Between a Winery and a Vineyard

 In CGT Blog

The weather is gorgeous and your friends are assembled at the winery. Or is it the vineyard? Which one is it, again? While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference.

Let the wine experts at Chateau Grand Traverse clear some confusion on the winery vs. vineyard conundrum and explain why we are – both!

Winery vs. Vineyard

There actually is a significant difference between a winery and a vineyard. A vineyard is where grapes are grown, and a winery is where wine is produced.

Let’s dig a little deeper.

What Is a Vineyard?

A vineyard is often the first thing that comes to mind as we imagine driving through wine country: Beautiful rolling hills covered in straight rows of vines gently sagging with grapes slowly ripening in the sun.

Vineyards are an important part of the winemaking process because without them we wouldn’t have any grapes to make wine with!  A vineyard does not necessarily have a winery on-site. Not everyone who grows grapes makes wine out of the harvest. Many sell their grapes to wineries.

There are some vineyards that do, however, have tasting rooms on-site, but these businesses produce or purchase the wines they sell elsewhere. If you come across one like this, you’ll notice they refer to themselves as a vineyard, not a winery.

What Is a Winery?

A winery is a licensed property that produces wine. The term winery typically encompasses the property, winemaking equipment, warehouses, bottling facilities, etc., that are involved in the winemaking process. A winery does not have to be located on a vineyard or produce wine from grapes they grow themselves. Most wineries have tasting rooms on the premises and offer tours of their winemaking operation – fermentation tanks, aging facility, bottling line, etc.

In many cases, a wine business is both a winery and a vineyard. When a winery says it uses “estate-grown” grapes that means they have their own vineyard. Chateau Grand Traverse is a great example of this. At CGT, we tackle every stage of the winemaking process in-house. From preparing the land to planting, caring for, harvesting, crushing and making wine out of the grapes.

Chateau Grand Traverse Does It All

Here at CGT, our 122-acre vineyard surrounds our main production building. To supplement our supply of grapes, we contract with local growers, many on Old Mission Peninsula, for an additional 80 acres’ worth of wine grapes. The grapes from these vineyards are harvested and processed along with our own at our family-owned and operated winery.

While wine businesses can be structured with or without their own vineyard, we’re firm believers that the best wine is crafted when every step of the process happens in-house. Our winemaker can always step out of the winery and into the vineyard to see the vines, taste the grapes, and determine when they reach the perfect moment for harvest.

Next time you visit Chateau Grand Traverse, soak it all in: Sample the wines made on-site, gaze at our gorgeous rolling vineyard, and (when COVID risks decline) take a tour of our production facility. We’ll see you soon!