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Geolocked Resources - Temperate Zones and Wine


Lacrimarum
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This is another post about a way to create 'geolocked resources' - valuable resources which could only can be cultivated in specific spots and would necessitate the building of additional infrastructure to extract and transport those resources. It's a suggestion that's aimed at providing a reason to continue playing. When exploring the tropics, I covered incense-bearing trees, spices, and coffee. For temperate areas, I'm going to focus on a greatly expanded system for winemaking which will cause players to look at the lay of the land and the different soil profiles in a completely different way.

Grape Vines

In the real world, wine grapes are a very unique crop. They respond poorly to rich, fertile soil, often providing thin, unimpressive wines in great quantities. This means that they are often planted on soils which wouldn't be used to produce other crops, like sands, gravels, or slopes with thin clay soils over bedrock. One of the great things about Vintage Story is that it already tracks the temperature of each block and uses this to determine heat stress in crops to determine reduced yields. Because of this, I think that a very rich, immersive system for winegrowing could be implemented fairly easily.

The central crop for this system would be the grape vine. These would be trained on a trellis made of sticks and boards, and could be stacked two high, with a similar mechanic to bushes. However, they would bear fruit as a fruit tree does, going through stages of flowering, fruit set, and ripening. They could be planted on gravel, sand, or clay, which would introduce an incentive to maintain these otherwise extraction-focused resources. There would be no need to manage nutrients as we do in farmland - heavy fertilizing is typically not beneficial to wine grapes. This land could be worked with a hoe in order to create a vineyard row before installing the trellising and planting the vine. Vine cuttings could be gained by using shears on the second level of trellising, removing its ability to yield grapes for one year but providing you with a number of cuttings with which to expand your vineyard.

There would be seven different grape varieties with different levels of heat and cold tolerance and preferred growing conditions. Depending on the level of heat stress which the vine endures, the final yield would be affected. What's more, each grape harvested will also have a quality level which determines both the value of a given wine and it's ability to age in a cellar, increasing the quality level by a given percentage each year until it reaches the end of its shelf life.

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Here are the different grape varieties. They would receive +1 quality for being planted on their bonus soil type. Pinot Noir and Riesling would have narrower temperature tolerances and lower yields, but would be rewarded with an additional +1 quality. As the grape vines grow, they will pick up conditions based on temperature and moisture variations. The temperature tolerances would have to be tinkered with, and my values are really just there to show where they would stand relative to one another.

Growing Conditions

As the year passed, each grape vine would pick up conditions, similar to how a crop would, and yields/quality would be reduced or increased depending on which conditions had been picked up during the growing season. This would cause differences not only from vintage to vintage, but also from site to site, as temperature and rainfall would vary with elevation and latitude.

Acidity

In the real world, acidity is very important for both red and white wines, and is largely determined by the temperature of the grapes throughout the growing season. Lower temperatures lead to higher acidity, while warmer temperatures cause the fruits to metabolize acids and break them down. This could result in five different harvest conditions for both reds and whites: flabby, round, balanced, angular, or tart.

Tannins

Tannins are almost entirely a concern for red grapes in the real world and would only concern them in Vintage Story (this is why normal quality white grapes were given a wider temperature tolerance - they can't get extra quality from tannins and would be pointless without being given an edge through that means). While red grapes are less forgiving temperature wise, they have the ability to pick up an extra quality point in the right environs. The different harvest conditions would be jammy, plush, silky, robust, and green, and would only affect quality, not yield.

Moisture

Moisture is important in the real world for wine grapes. Too much can cause rot, too little can cause hydric stress. This parameter would effect all grapes equally, they would not have individual tolerances. Too much moisture would cause heavily reduced yields, while too little would slightly reduce yields and quality. There is a grey rot which affects the berries, caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea. In most cases it is undesirable and causes grey rot, dramatically reducing yields. But for one grape in our seven, Riesling, if kept in check this fungus creates noble rot, producing concentrated Sélection de Grains Nobles or Trockenbeerenenauslese wines which are highly sought after in small quantities. In order to balance the extra quality points that Pinot Noir can pick up from clay soils and tannins, Riesling which reaches this point without rotting will receive 1/2 yields but a huge bonus to quality. The five conditions would be rotted, botrytized, concentrated, stressed, and coarse. Proper water balance will require carefully thought-out irrigation and not planting in areas with too much or too little rain.

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Calculations

The way these would be calculated would be to add all of the quality bonuses, while the yield ones would be added one after another. For example, an angular, robust, stressed red would have it's base yield, lets say it's 100 for ease of calculation, be cut by 40% to 60, then by 25% to 45, not by 65% to 35. A tart, concentrated white wine would receive -50% yields and no quality bonus as the plus and minus cancel out. As to when these would trigger, it would be after the plant has spent a certain number of hours passed a given threshold, with the worst bonus earned overriding the others. For a Riesling, you would have to let the vine stay wet enough to trigger Botrytis (passed 2/3 between the midpoint and high tolerance for moisture), without exceeding the high tolerance for the number of hours required. To create a balanced Pinot Noir, it could never exceed the 2/3 point between the midpoint of its temperature tolerance range and the upper or lower limits. The end result is that planting a hillside vineyard would return different results for each row depending on elevation, just as it does famously in Burgundy, where the best grapes are produced on the middle of the slope on the Grand Crus, or in the Mosel where certain Grosses Lage yield the greatest wine.

Vine Age

Another aspect of real world viticulture which is very important is vine age. As a vine ages, it produces higher quality but lower quality of grapes once it has reached maturity. With every harvest, a year could be added to a vines age, with the following effects:

Young Vines 0-1: -1Q 50% Yields

Normal Vines 2-4: +0Q 100% Yields

Old Vines 5-9: +1Q 75% Yields

Ancient Vines 10+: +2Q 50% Yields

Aging

The big reason why quality is so important is that while a wine ages, it's quality level will increase by percentages, and the higher the quality the longer it will age. So to get the highest quality wine, you need to age it for the longest possible time. Wines must be aged in a cellar environment in order to gain quality. As to how wine will be aged, there would be three methods:

Amphorae - Bulk wine storage. Created with clay and sealed with wax or fat. No additional bonus.

Bottles - Individual wines, sealed with cork (can be created from oak logs, or harvested from a special cork oak in warmer regions. No additional bonuses.

Oak Barrels - Made from many aged oak staves, similar to a longbow, and metal bands. Will hold wine for up to 2 years, and will increase the rate at which quality accrues during those two years (+0.2% per year instead of +0.1%). Wine aged in an oak barrel like this will gain the modifier 'Oaked', and will not be able to be oaked further. Because ageing runs by percentages, increasing the quality at a higher rate at the beginning of the aging process will have cumulative effects. Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc can only be oaked for one year, creating a used cask which can be used for an additional year for those grapes in the following vintage.

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Impact

I think that wine's main impact wouldn't be to buff the player or anything like that. Throughout history the point of quality wine has been as a source of enjoyment, not a practical purpose. For this reason, I think that wine should mostly have its impact be felt on a developing village once that point of the roadmap has been met. It could be deposited within a central inventory and used to increase the luxury value of the town, which could increase the productivity/growth rate of the villager population. It could also be used as offerings in a temple building (perhaps on an altar block) for bonuses which correspond to the quality of the wine, or be used to trade with others looking to use wine for such purposes. The biggest impact of wine on the game would be to force the player to look at the landscape in new ways. Did clay spawn on a slope? Don't mine it out! Wait till you have the right grapes and plant them on those blocks, and what could have been a one-time burst of clay is now a goldmine vineyard. Is there a large gravel field near you? Get your bucket and irrigate it, plant the proper grapes, and grow them. Is one corner of you vineyard not performing well? Try a different grape type! Found a slope with ideal temperature profiles? Build terraces, fill them with the proper gravel, build channels for water if the area is dry, and create a large vineyard. Overall, it would give people a reason to creatively use terrain and to seek out certain combinations of soil/temperature.

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