Wine Education: A Quick Guide to Wine Harvest Season

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Wine Education: A Quick Guide to Wine Harvest Season

Deciding when to harvest the grapes is one of the most important decisions a winemaker has to make. If you're wondering what really happens during wine harvest season, learn more with this quick guide.

 

When is wine harvest season?

Above the equator in the Northern Hemisphere, harvesting usually occurs sometime between August and October. In the Southern Hemisphere, it's sometime between February and April. The exact dates vary from year to year.

 

How do growers decide when to harvest?

Growers rely on their own experience and scientific tests. They test for ripeness by taking the juice from some of their grapes, and using a tool called a hydrometer to measure Brix, that's a measurement of sugar levels. They also examine and taste the grapes day to day to find that moment of physiological ripeness and balance between sugar, acidity, and other factors.

 

Do people or machines do the work?

High quality wines still use hand harvesting by skilled workers for the most part. Less expensive wines are more likely to use mechanical harvesters. Once the grapes are picked, optical laser sorters are replacing hand sorting just about everywhere.

 

Why do growers harvest at night?

If you think it's because they're vampires, you've been watching too many movies. It's really because growers are trying to take advantage of cooler temperatures overnight or at dawn so they can keep any damaged grapes from fermenting too early. That's especially important now given that machine harvesting tends to break more skins.

Can I pick some grapes? If you live near a vineyard or you're visiting one during harvest season, you may be able to get in on the experience yourself. Some winemakers are happy to welcome volunteers so you can work at your own pace, and get a feel for what it's like. If you're thinking about finding paid work, you'll have something interesting to put on your resume, but just be sure you're prepared to commit to weeks of physical labor outdoors.

Growing wine can be challenging, but drinking it is easy. That's especially true when you shop at Vino Fine Wine & Spirits. Contact us today to see why we're consistently voted one of New York's top-rated wine stores.

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  • Adam Linet