Everything you need to know about grape harvest time
Soon we’ll be immersed in it — the delectable aroma of fermenting grapes. It’s a good time to revisit this quick-hit primer; it will help you step into the harvest experience.
The Grape Pick Rollout: Sparkling wine grapes are the first out of the gate — chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.
These grapes are picked the earliest of all the varietals because they are best for bubbly when they have brighter acid, as opposed to riper flavors.
Next in line are white wines, followed by red wines.
From Vineyard to Cellar: This is the time of year when you appreciate lofty winemakers for their duality of also being rustic farmers.
The first step of winemaking is truly grooming grapes in the vineyard with all these considerations and more: site, climate, sun exposure, soils, drainage and trellis systems.
Pinpointing the pick is one of the most crucial decisions during harvest. It’s based on ripeness, measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels.
Of course some winemakers take a less scientific approach and simply taste the grapes.
Fermentation in the Cellar: Fermentation is the bewitching process of turning sugar from the grapes into alcohol. What carries out the fermentation are yeasts — and there are two types.
Ambient yeasts are present in the air of wine cellars, and some winemakers like to let fermentation unfold naturally due to some of the great flavors this process imparts.
Meanwhile others prefer cultured yeasts because they are easier to control.
We live in a unique corner of the world, and every year we’re reminded of that as we collectively celebrate the coming-out party of the grape.