In Viticulture you and your fellow players all own your own vineyard. You try to gain as much victory points as possible by assigning your workers to all kinds of tasks. You have to plant some grape vines, harvest them and make them into wine, which of course needs to age. You do this all on your own playerboard. During the game you also collect orders, specific requests of certain types of wine. Fulfilling these orders gives you victory points.
You start the rounds by deciding who gets up early and gets to go first and who sleeps in and gains some benefit for this. After this you take turns by placing your workers and gaining rewards in return. There is a separation between summer and winter, in between these two you get to draw a summer or winter card, which can only be used in the season you are in at that time (of course when placing a worker). When all players have spent all their workers, they will receive their income and a new round starts with every player deciding player order again.
When a player crosses 20 victory points, all players finish their current round and then the player with the highest player count wins the game.
I really love Viticulture. So often I have been on a winetour holiday through France, tasting wines at vinyards. This game really reminds me of this, I think the theme is strongly present.
Workerplacement is one of my favourite mechanisms and in this game it all feels so very rich! It doesn't feel like just placing my worker and gaining a reward, like it does in some other workerplacement games. No, it feels like I'm building up my very own vinyard, and performing all kinds of tasks to fullfill orders and make more wines!
The only negative point I can find is that there is some luck involved in drawing specific cards. Which grape vines you draw and which orders. There is the possibility of having some bad luck when another player draws all the right cards. However, it never bothered me that much. It's just nice to know there is a bit of luck involved here.
I really like the soloplay as well. I often play it at my salon table in the living room, sitting on the ground, with sometimes a glass of red wine. Tea also does it well though!
Viticulture is not too heavy, it feels like a somewhat heavier family game to me. I highly recommend this game if you are into winemaking (or drinking) and/or workerlpacement.