People have long talked to their plants in the belief that it helps them grow healthy and strong.
Now, at a vineyard in South Africa the hills are alive with the sound of music instead.
They are playing classical music to the grapes round the clock, convinced that it relaxes the fruit and improves the flavour in the bottle.
Scientists in Pretoria heard it on the grapevine, and are trying to get a Handel on what’s going on.
Professor in Plant Pathology and Microbiology at the city’s university, Lise Korten said:“The impact of music on plant cell growth or bacterial growth, directly impacts on the growth rate. There’s some evidence of that on cell wall structures and then also on the cell content.”
Other experts are sceptical, and believe the musical wine growers are Bach-ing up the wrong tree.
Viticulture specialist, Dr Albert Strever from the University of Stellenbosch said: “I’ve not come across a single experiment on grapevine in a controlled environment or with replicates, that say that grapevine quality, or growth, or grape composition, is stimulated in any way by sounds. It is derived mostly, the perception, which in some cases sound more like folklore that comes from early days.”
Musical winemaker Carl van der Merwe denies he is on a Haydn to nothing. He describes his young Syrah as spicy and peppery with slightly herbal undertones.
The music, he believes, allows the grapes to remain on the vine for longer, meaning his staff can delay Chopin’ them down.
“This particular wine came from a vineyard that actually had the music being played to it, and I’d love to tell you that I can hear the sound of baroque music in the glass,” van der Merwe said. “But we believe that the music in this particular block has steadied the growth. Giving it a bit more hang time, and funnily enough the alcohol on this wine was not as high as we’d seen on the other blocks.”
Whichever school of thought is correct, there are two composers who will be eternally linked to the production of wine — Brahms and Liszt.