Harvests are a crucial and exhausting time of year, the culmination of a year’s work, patience and attentive care to the vines.
Time is everything : When to start the harvest?
Aside from the geography and knowing where to grow grapes, the next most important decision in the vinification is knowing when grapes are ready to be harvested. This is a combination of science and instinct on the part of the winemaker. Monitoring the grapes and the amount that they dry on the vine has a direct impact on the sugar content, which defines many characteristics for wine, especially the alcohol content. In some country, like in France, it’s regulate.
When is the harvest time?
No matter where you are in the world, there’s probably a grape harvest happening! In Napa Valley and Sonoma County, for example, harvest runs from August through October, while in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are flipped.
Anyway, the harvest season typically falls between August & October in the Northern Hemisphere and February & April in the Southern Hemisphere. By the way, climate change continues to move these dates up!
Is manual harvest really better than mechanical harvest?
Mechanical harvesting method’s advantage is its speed, although it’s less selective than hand-picking even if most machines have settings that ensure only grapes of the desired ripeness are plucked.
In some appellations, hand-picking is the law. Wine harvesting in this way ensures grape quality, but its production costs are far more elevated. This method is used when high-quality wines are the desired end-product, as well as when grape vines are inaccessible to machines.
Want to experience grape harvesting first-hand for a day? Contact your local or favourite winery and get more information about this unique event.