Chapter 2 of 11 from James Suckling

Primary Factors of Influence: In the Vineyard


All great wines begin in the vineyard. Learn the principles of viticulture as James teaches you the factors that influence a great wine, and the importance of soil, climate, varietals, and regions.

Topics include: Soil • Climate • Varietals • Regions • Fermentation • Blending

All great wines begin in the vineyard. Learn the principles of viticulture as James teaches you the factors that influence a great wine, and the importance of soil, climate, varietals, and regions.

Topics include: Soil • Climate • Varietals • Regions • Fermentation • Blending

James Suckling

James Suckling Teaches Wine Appreciation

Flavor, aroma, and structure—Learn from wine master James Suckling as he teaches you to appreciate the stories in every bottle.

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Discover the story in every bottle

Called one of the “world’s most powerful wine critics,” James Suckling has tasted more than 200,000 wines over the past 40 years. In his MasterClass, James tours legendary Tuscan vineyards and teaches you to explore the stories, history, and people behind every bottle. Deepen your knowledge of the properties in each sip, cultivate your passion, and choose, order, and pair wines with confidence.

Immerse yourself in the vineyards of Tuscany with renowned wine critic James Suckling and deepen your appreciation for the wines of the world.

A downloadable wine guide accompanies the class with lesson recaps, supplemental materials, and a printable worksheet to help you conduct your own tastings.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. James will also respond to select student questions.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I learned a great deal on the different elements that comprise a memorable wine, how to appreciate it, how to educate myself on whether a certain wine will go well with a particular food dish, and wine etiquette at a restaurant. I thoroughly enjoyed James Suckling's commentary and insights.

It was a great and fun beginner course! Covered all the main basics and got me inspired to learn more about wine. One thing that I'd like to see this course change is to have some more instruction on how to identify good wine vs bad wine back to back.

This class is great, I love wines and for so long I´ve been using James´s rankings for choosing wines in stores or restaurants. To hear from him how the score works and see him interacting with Winemakers is great. This class inspired me to have fun with family and friends everytime I open a Bottle.

Nicely done - really enjoyed the conversations at the tables...and the lunch toward the end of the Masterclass really gives you an appreciation for fun learning. Cook up some food. Open up the bottles and compare!


Eduardo B.

I enjoyed the class, is a nice overview of the wine making process. The quality of the filming is also remarkable. Looking forward for the next one.

Estefania C.

My favourite parts of this lesson were, learning more about how specific varietals are great in specific regions and also the impact of weather when thinking about the year. I'm excited to go wine shopping with a more trained "eye" when looking at how those four factors play together: year, weather, varietal and region.

Mark Z.

I am already changing the way I drink and think about wine. And it’s only the second lesion.

Srivathsa M.

I do not even drink wine. But I am deeply interested in the process of excellent winemaking and to appreciate this beautiful culture of winemaking. This masterclass is exactly as expected and more. It is wonderful how he explains each element that factors the quality of the wine. This is exactly what I signed up to learn.

Jennifer P.

I am seeing some really negative comments in here. " wine nerds....I can’t believe people get this into wine...." "class about nothing" If you don't like it, don't watch it. Does the autonomy from being behind your keyboard leave you feeling empowered to leave bad comments? For those who wonder why Mr. Suckling concentrates on Bordeaux varietals, he is considered a Bordeaux expert, stick with what you know. If this class is too basic for you- go over to the Guild of the Master Somm. website, pay the yearly fee and podcast, video, and study guide away. Is this class going to be a be all-end all study guide to sit your sommelier exam, no. It is a wonderful overview for those finding the passion in the wine world.


I’m only watching this so I can talk a good game with wine nerds....I can’t believe people get this into wine....

Michael D.

Well that gave ma a greater appreciation for the wine makers who strive to please every night when I have my glass of wine.

A fellow student

I enjoy the passion here. I have been through several online wine classes, but this was one of the most enjoyable.

Jon L.

Excited about this class. It was a bday gift from my wife..........with my suggestion.


What a grand way to spend the first day of 2019. My new mantra (stolen -thank you J Suckling) is ‘life is too short to drink bad wine’!


I'm here in Tuscany at the estate of Tenuta Tignanello. It's owned by the family of Antinori. This Florentine family has been making wine here for over 600 years. Here on this estate, they make two world-class wines called Tignanello and Solaia. The vineyards are just behind me there-- iconic wines that age for decades. We're going to begin here in the vineyards with the grapes, and start our journey here so that you understand the fundamentals of soil and terroir. It's interesting that the principles of winemaking and viticulture are essentially the same around the world. The concept is, as a winemaker, I look for the best grapes and I try to maintain the quality in those grapes all the way through the wine-making process and into the bottle. So look at this experimental vineyard. Typical soils of the region-- alberese, which is high in calcium. These are fossils that have let off calcium products into the soil. There's other places in the world like that-- such as Burgundy, some places in the Central Coast, and California-- but this is particularly unique in Chianti Classico in Tuscany. Also interesting in this experimental vineyard are these stones. The Antinoris are always looking for better ways to cultivate their vines, even using these stones which are placed around the trunks of the vines themselves. And these stones reflect the sun and also take in heat during the day. So into the night, this heat reflects into the vineyards, and they're hoping that this will help the vines grow and produce better, riper fruit. It's key that there's not too much precipitation in the soil, because all sorts of things can happen-- from disease to dilution in the grapes. It's all about a balance in the soil and microclimate of the vineyards. These vines, to me, look in beautiful shape. The canopy has been well-maintained. It's shading the grapes so you're not getting much sunburn. It's all about having the right balance of foliage and the bunches of grapes to the age of the vine. That brings along perfect maturity-- as long as God gives us great weather. [MUSIC PLAYING] I love to feel the soil under my feet. It reminds me how important soil, vineyards, climate has to do with wine. It's key. It's everything. For example, here in this vineyard, with the alberese soils it provides the vines with just enough nutrition, but not too much. This makes the vines grow in a very balanced way. And in a way, they're suffering. But it's not that they're suffering. It's just that they don't want the vines to grow too vigorously or too quickly, because this produces the best quality grapes. And what's amazing to me about these beautiful vines-- I love to touch them-- each vine is like a different human being. They have different personalities. They grow up in a different way. Well, what's interesting-- these are 25 years old, but they look like they're six, seven years old. That's because they've grown with less nutrients than in oth...