A wine’s vintage is the year the grapes were harvested. For example, grapes for a 2000 Pinot Noir were harvested in the fall of that year, fermented, and placed into oak barrels for aging. While the wine may have been bottled and sold well into 2001 or 2002, the label on the bottle will reflect a vintage of 2000. If an industry’s wines have had a “good vintage” year, it means that overall, conditions were ideal for growing grapes, and as a result, the wines should also be very good.
A vintage also serves a much more fundamental purpose: it gives the consumer an idea of how old the wine is, and can help in making decisions about purchasing, storing, caring for, and serving the wine.