VITICULTURE-Grape Harvest


  • SUB-TOPICS Of GRAPE HARVEST
    • What is a Grape Harvest?
    • Vinetage
    • Picking Decision
    • Crop Yields
    • Harvesting the Grapes
    • End Products For Grapes

WHAT Is A GRAPE HARVEST?

HARVEST  Process of Picking Grape from Vine and Transporting Them to Winery to Initiate Wine Production.  AKA= Crush, Recolte, Vendange, Vendemmia, Erute, Cosecha, Colleita.

  • The Few Weeks Before Harvest Are a Nerve-Racking For Grape Growers. Many Miles and Row Are Walked Pondering Sugar Levels and Harvest Date.
  • Best Vintages Are Dry For the 2 Months Before Harvest Period.
  • Grapes Are Considered a Perennial Crop.

Wine-Makers Have Style They’re Aiming to Achieve With Grapes at  Particular Vineyard Sight.  A Complete Pitcher Must Be Assessed Before A Picking Decision Made. A “Perfect Little Window” Brix, PH., Total Acidity, Flavor Ripeness, Phenolic Ripeness, Seed Ripeness, Color of Skin.

APPELLATION/ Appellation Designate- Wine Produced Entirely From Grapes Produced In One Appellation.

SINGLE VINEYARD/ Lieu-Dit/ Vineyard Designate/ Site Specific- Wine Produced Entirely From Grapes Produced From One Vineyard. Single Vineyard Wines Are the Best Representation of a Location and Its Terroir. A Single Vineyard Delineates Specific Quality of a Specific Piece of Land.

  • France– Premier Cru/ Grand Cru
  • Germany– Einzellage
  • USA.- Single Vineyard

VINEYARD BLOCK/ Block Designate- A Sub-Section of a Vineyard, Usually Broken Up by Topographic or Varietal or Micro-Climate Reasons.

BLOCK QUADRANT- A Sub-Section of a Block.

  • A Vineyards Parcels or Sections Vary by Varietal/ Clone, Altitude, Soil. Individual Parcels Are Isolated and Harvested and Fermented Separately. Later the Wines Can Be Bottled Separately or Blended Together to Achieve Different Outcome or Styles.

LIEU-DIT- (Literal Translation is French For a “Said Location”)- Plot of Land That is Recognized For Its Own Topographic or Historical Specificities. Lieu-Dit Are Small Geographic Areas Bearing a Traditional Name Having to Do With the Environment or Local Heritage. The Name of the Lieu-Dit Usually Refers to Some Characteristic of the Place(a Tree, Hill, River), Its Former Use or a Past Event.

CLIMATS- A Delineated Plot of Land That Has a Specific Geological or Climatic Condition.  Climats Confer Their Own Unique Terroir or Organoleptic Qualities Onto the Wine.

MONOPOLE- A Grape Growing Area Controlled by a Single Winery. It Can Be as Small as a Vineyard or as Large as an Entire Appellation.

  • IMPORTANT MONOPOLES Of The WORLD
    • Les Ruelies, La Mission (Premier Cru)   @Mercurey AOC., France
    • La Tache, La Grande Rue (Grand Cru)   @Vosne-Romanee AOC., France
    • Clos Marechaudes, Clos Corton Faiveley (Grand Cru)   @Aloxe-Corton AOC., France
    • Clos de la Marechale, Clos de Thorey (Premier Cru)  @Nuits St.-Georges AOC., France
    • Clos de L’ecu, Clos des Ursule (Premier Cru)  @Beaune AOC., France
    • Clos des Ducs, Clos de la Bousse d’Or (Premier Cru)  @Volnay AOC., France
    • Malgas Ward, Sijnn’s Estate  @Swellendam District, South Africa

VINTAGE  The Year In Which The Grapes Were Harvested.

  • Vintage Dates Became Important Only When it Became Possible to Store Wine Effectively After the Year it Was Produced.
  • 1600’s and 1700’s Vintage Truly Became Important When New Cork and Bottle Technologies Became Prevalent.
  • Northern Hemisphere- Grape Grown and Ripening Take Place In the Same Calendar Year.(Ice-Wine Harvested In January, But Vintage Date Given For Previous Year.
  • Southern Hemisphere- Half of Growth and Development Take Place Previous Year But Vintage Date Given For Year the Grapes Were Harvested.

There’s a Correlation Between the Quality of a Finished Wine and the Quality of the Grape Grown and Also a Correlation With the Quality of the Grapes and the Weather During the Growing Season.

VINTAGE VARIATION  Difference of How Wine Tastes Year to Year Based On Influence of Weather. Cooler Climate Areas Are More Variable and Prone to Vintage Variation From Vintage to Vintage.

  • MAJOR RESONS FOR VINTAGE VARIATION
    • Overly Dry Year                                    Overly Rainy Year
    • Overly Hot Year                                   Overly Cold Year
    • Rains Around Harvest Time.            Spring/ Fall Frost/ Hail

VINTAGE CHART- Summarize the Quality and Character of the Wines From a Particular Region In a Specific Year. Vintage Charts Are General In Nature But Can Guide Consumers In Making Better Choices When Faced With Unfamiliar Wine from Unfamiliar Countries. Vintage Charts Are Also Helpful In Determining When a Wine is Ready to Drink.

  • Try to Understand the High and Low Vintages of a Particular Region In the Past Decade or a Period of Time That You Might Find Wines In a Market.
  • HISTORY- England’s International Wine & Food Society Put Out What is Believed to Be the First Vintage Chart.
    • Vintage Dates Should Be Taken More Seriously In Certain Wine Producing Country’s of the World…It’s Generally Always Sunny and a Good Vintage Throughout California, Unlike France Where it Can Be Sunny One Summer and Have Long Periods Bad Weather the Next.
    • Poor Vintages For Red Wines In a Particular Region or Appellation Can Lead to a Great Vintage For White Wines In the Same area and Vice-Versa.
  • PHILOSOPHY?  Is it Wrong or Difficult to Generalize an Entire Vintage For a Region?
    • The Quality of a the Grapes Grown In Calistoga In Northern Napa Will Be Different Than the Overall Quality of Grapes Grown In Carneros In Southern Napa 20 Miles South. Also the Overall Quality of the Chardonnay Vintage In Burgundy One Vintage Might Be Poor But the Pinot Noir Grown In the Same Region Might Be Seen as Superb.

WINEMAKERS VINTAGE- A Vintage/ Harvest Dictated by the Decisions of the Grape Grower/ Wine Maker and Not Nature. A Winemakers Vintage Goes Perfectly, No Weather Episodes and No Creature Factors.

HARVEST VINTAGE- A Vintage/ Harvest Dictated by Nature, One In Which Nothing Goes Right, One In Which the Perfect Wine is Just Not Able to Be Made.

  • Making the Call- Calling In the Harvest Worker to Commence Harvest.
    • Forcing a Pick- Bad Weather is Forcing the Harvest…Heat Spike/ Rain/ Frost.

HARVEST FESTIVAL-  Many Regions/ Villages Gave Festivals to Celebrate Harvest With Traditions i.e. Harvest Queens, Games, Food, Competitions.

  • Northern Hemisphere- Late August-Early November….Ice Wine January
  • Southern Hemisphere- March-April

PICKING DECISION

ATTENTIVE ANALYSIS  Monitoring and Careful Watching of the Analytical Numbers Pertaining to Grape Development Late In the Growing Season Prior to Harvest.

  • Maturity Monitoring- Brix, Acidity(Titratable Acidity & PH.) All Are Highly Monitored In Weeks Before Harvest. These Are Enhanced by the Addition of a more accurate Determination of Fermentable Sugars(Glucose & Fructose) and  Malac Acid.
  • Potential Hydrogen-Ion Concentration=PH. -Measure Acidity vs. Alkalinity
  • Brix- A Measure of the Sugar Content of Grape at the Time of Harvest, (2° Brix= 1% Abv.)
    • Brix Range- Whites- 17° to 24°   |   Reds- 20° to 30°  (These Are Ranges of Grapes at Optimal Ripeness.)
    • Brix AKA=Baume, Oechsle
  • Baume- A Measurement of Dissolved Solids In Grape  Juice That Indicates the Grapes Sugar Level and Ripeness and Therefore the Potential Alcohol In the Wine.
  • Oechsle- Scale Used In Germany to Measure Sugar Levels and Other Solids In Grapes or Must.
    • Reds Harvested @24°-26°(or Sooner), Whites@22°-24°
    • 1° Brix Yields .55% – .64% Grams of Alcohol Depending On Yeast Strain and Variants.
      ~Example~ 26° Brix= 14% Abv.
  • PIONEERS~ ~Adolf Brix~ “Austria” Developed Scale For Measuring Sugar Levels.

REFRACTOMETER- A Optical Device For Field or Laboratory  Measurement  of  Brix, Fructose and Glucose In Ripening Grapes.  Harvest Day Determined by Brix Level From Refractometer.

  • TYPES OF REFRACTOMETERS
    • Traditional Handheld Refractometers
    • Digital Handheld Refractometers
    • Laboratory/ Abbe Refractometers

The Picking Decision Shouldn’t Be Based On Only Brix Level.  The Entire Balance Should Be Lock at a Measured. Total Amount of Tartaric Acid, Malic Acid, Fructose Glucose, PH. All Come Into Play and Are Constantly Moving On a Curve and Intersect at Different Points.

OTHER THINGS TO MONITOR BEFORE HARVEST

  • Skin & Seed Assessment- Although the Grape Grower Depends On His Refractometer to Determine the Optimal Picking Time, the Grower Depends of His Well Defined Palate to Guide His Decision. In the Days and Weeks Prior to Picking the Grower Walks Up and Down the Row In the Vineyard Mathodically Picks Grapes to Determine the Picking Decicion.  The Grapes Are Put In the Grower Mouth and the Skins Are Grinded Back and Forth In Their Teeth Looking For the Perfect Texture and Consistantcy.  After the Skins Have Been Assessed For Ripeness, the Seeds Are Assesed.  The Seeds Are Broken In the Teeth Hoping to Find Firm Crunchy and Brittleness.  If the Seeds Are Soft at All the Grapes Have Not Reached Their Optimal Ripement.
  • Acidity- Picking Grapes Early Retains Acidity Which is Important In the Pursuit of Balance and/ or Producing Sparkling Wines.
  • Monitoring Sugar Per Berry– Starting After Version Growers Need to Determine the Duration and Rate of Sugar Loading.  During This Phase Vines Synthesize and Actively Transport Sugar Into Berries.

PICKING TIME- Optimal to Bring In Harvested Grapes at a Temperature of 45° or Cooler, This is Why Most Grapes Are Harvested In the Early Morning Hours.

  • Harvest Done In Morning Hours, Grapes at 4 AM.. Will Have Lower Brix Than Previous Afternoon Because Grapes Are Fully Hydrated.

LATE HARVEST- Grapes Left of Vine Longer Than Usual Harvest to Ripen Past Regular Brix Level.  Late Harvest Grapes Partially Resonate On Vine Leaving Higher Sugar Levels and Gives Potential For Added Sweetness and Higher Alcohol Level.

A VINE PERSONALITY- Over Years and Decades the Vines In the Vineyard (Rows and Blocks) Start to Reveal Personalities and Slight Differences That Are Consistent Year to Year.

ICE WINE- Bunches Left Vine to Freeze Into Winter Months.

  • **Refer to “WINE STYLES/ Ice Wine” For Detailed Information.

CROP YIELDS  Amount of Grapes Picked/ Harvested From a Particular Vineyard or Plot.

Vines Have No Interest In Producing World Class Grapes/ Wines.  There Natural Flowing and Maturation Function is Just to Regenerate Themselves to Produce the Most Seeds and Fruit That Can Which is Counter Productive to Great Wine.

NATURAL YEILD- The Amount of Grapes That a Vine/ Acre Will Give if No Human Input is Done to the Vineyard.

  • FACTORS EFFECTING YIELDS
    • Varietal Berry Size
    • Number of Bunches Per Vine Number of Berries Per Bunch.
    • Number of Vines Per Acre/ Vine Spacing
    • Canopy Management
    • Vine Training Pruning
    • Vigor Water Stress
    • “Success of Fruit-Set”…Frost, Hail, Weather
    • Local Wine Laws/ AOC./ DOC.
  • MEASURING YIELDS
    • “Volume” of Wine Per Vineyard Hectare Hectoliters Per Hectare…Hl/ ha
    • “Mass” of Grapes Harvested Per Hectare Tons Per Hectare/ Acre…Ton/ ha.
    • -Yield= +Expression +Complexity, Strengthen Vine, Control Pest
    • +YIELD=
  • LOW YIELDING GRAPES
    • Tannat
  • HIGH YIELDING GRAPES
    • White- Colombard, Pinot Gris
    • Red- Pinotage, Zinfandel

HARVESTING The GRAPES

NOCTURNAL HARVEST- Process of Harvesting the Grape In the Early Morning Hours.

  • This is Done Because Cool Fruit Means Better Control Over the Fermentation Process.
  • High Daytime Temperatures Change the Sugar and Acid Composition Throwing of the Balance.
  • Cool Grapes Preserves the Purity of the Fruit.

MANUAL/ Hand Harvest- Cutting Stem of Individual Bunches of Grapes, and Placing In Container “Burgundian Method”.

  • Slower and Labor Intense, But Allow For Detailed Grape Selection.
  • Most Quality Produces Choose to Hand Harvest.
  • Once Grape Has Dispatched From Stem It’s Called and Considered a Berry.

MATERIAL OTHER THAT GRAPES MOG. Term Used to Refer to Debris Like Leaves, Dirt, Stems, Birds Nests, Dead Rats That Can Be Collected Unintentionally or From Poor Mechanically Harvested Practices While Harvesting Grapes.

GREEN HARVEST- Unevenly Ripened Berries and Smaller Bunches Removed and “Dropped” On the Ground. Green Harvest Will Allow For Remaining Bunches to Ripen Together and the Grape-Vine to Concentrate Its Energy On the Remaining Fruit.

PRACTICAL ISSUES

PREPARING FOR HARVEST- There Are Always Tasks of Preparing For the Harvest.

  • Arranging Your Picking Crew, Either With the Staff You Have On Hand or Hiring a Picking Team.
  • Obtaining / Sharpening Knives and Shears.
  • Renting or Cleaning Your Harvest Bins.
  • Getting/ Arranging Trucking or Transportation.
  • Getting Lights For a Night Harvest.
  • Safety Training or Harvest Meeting.
  • Finding a Home For Your Grapes at Harvest. (Either In Your Winery if You Make the Wine or Someone to Sell Them to.)

Crush is a Busy Time When You See the Wine Maker With a Smile or Without One Depending On the Vintage.

HARVESTING TOOLS  Tools That Have Evolved Over Hundreds of Years to Help Make Harvesting.

  • Harvest Shears- Long Pointed Needle Nose Blades. (Straight or Curved)
  • Picking Lugs- These Lugs Offer an Efficient Method to Protect and Transport Bunches In High Quality, Impact Resistant, Hand-Held Containers. Picking Lugs Have 30-40 Pound Capacity. This Allow For Less Fruit and Less Weight On Bottle Fruit to Prevent Weight of Bunches From Bursting Skins and Commencing Fermentation.
  • Harvest Bins- Durable, Bulk Containers, Usually for Transportation or Storage.
  • Macro Bins Half Ton Bins/ Ton Bins- These Bins Are Used to Go From the Vineyard to the Winery, Making Transportation and Logistics Easy. Macro Bins Can Be Used For Harvest, Transportation and Also as a Fermentation Container.
  • Ouvrees- French Term For the Amount of Land 1 Worker Could Work In One Day. (Can Be used In Terms of Prunning, Harvesting Ect.)
  • Bill Hook- Ancient Tool of Steel Fixed to a Wooden Handle.  Used For Harvest and Pruning.
  • Secateurs– Steel Sheers Used For Prunning, Invented by French Antoine Francois Bertrand de Molleville In 1819.

GLEANING-  Picking of Leftover Grapes After Harvest.

  • Grapes In Single Vineyard Ripen at Different Times. A Completed Harvest May Take Several Passes Through Vineyard or Tries.

PASSES- Number to Times Individual (Usually Vineyard Manager) Walks Through a Vineyard During a Season.

  • It’s Though That 25+ Passes Through Vineyard to Complete Entire Season, Start to Finish.

TRIES- Number of Time it Takes to Harvest a Vineyard.

  • One Day the “Morning Sun” Side of the Rows are Picked, Days Later the “Afternoon Sun” Side of the Rows are Picked.
  • In the Mosel Valley of Germany, There Might Be 4+ Tries to Pick the Bunches at All the Different Sweetness Levels.
  • In Some Vineyard With Deferentially Ripening the Entire Vineyard Will Get Harvest Over a Period of Weeks.  These Blocks Will Be Fermented Separately and Blended Back Together to Produce a Single Vineyard Blend.

SECOND HARVEST- The Second Time Through a Vineyard to Pick the Bunches That Where Considered Unripe, Small, or Inferior. The Second Harvest is Sometimes Done by the Primary Grape Grower or the Rights to Perform Second Harvest Sold-Off to Another Party at a Discounted Price.

  • ~WINE In The BIBLE~ When Thou Gatherest the Grapes of Thy Vineyard, Thou Shalt Not Glean it Afterward: it Shall Be For the Stranger, the Fatherless, and the Widow.

SECOND CROP- During the Grape Growing Process There Sometimes Can Be a Second Crop. The Main Crop is When the Ripe Grapes Are Harvested. Often Times the Main Crop is Followed by a Secondary Crop When the Vines Produce Another Set of Ripening Grapes After the First Crop Is Harvested.  The Second Crop Will Arises Out of Lateral Vines Branching Off From the Primary Shoots From the Original Bunches, Not Yield as Many Bunches or of the Same Size Bunches.  The Second Crop Will Most Likely Have Under Developed Tastes and Are Most Often Let to the Bird or Left to Fall Off During the Winter.  The Vine Does a Second Crop as an Evolutionary Back Up In Case the Primary Crop Was Damaged In a Weather Event.

MECHANICAL HARVEST Rolling Machine Down Vineyard Rows and Shaking the Vine to Collection the Grapes That Fall Off.

VITICULTURE- ADVANTAGE– Faster/ Cheaper Than Hand Harvest

  • Faster and More Production.  Mechanical Harvesters Can Process Up to 2 Acres per Hour/ Takes 20 Skilled Laborers an Hour to Do 1 Acres.
  • Harvest Can Be Performed In Early Morning Without Light.

VITICULTURE- CHALLENGE–  Requires Considerable Investment

  • Sometimes Grapes Breaks Open and Start to Oxidize and Potentially Start Premature Fermentation.
  • Only Feasible On Flat or Gently Sloping, Dry Vineyards.
  • Some Trellis Systems Are Too Narrow For Mechanical Harvester.
  • MECHANICAL HARVEST MACHINE COMPANIES
    • New Holland- USA.
    • Gregoire- Australia
    • Oxbo- USA.
    • Pellenc- France

END PRODUCT FOR GRAPES

Grapes Destined For Wine Production Are Just One of the Finished Products That Can Be Produced.

  • Eating Grapes          Raisins
  • Grape Juice          Wine
  • Distillation For Spirits         Distillation For Medicine
  • Jam/ Jelly         Vinegar


**Refer to “BIBLIOGRAPHY/ Sources” For Details On Scholarly Works Referenced.