These are the excited days of the harvest, when the grapes, grown throughout the year, are harvested and taken to the cellar to give life to the miracle of wine. The grape harvest is still a ritual moment today, with a strong social meaning. In the past, during the harvest, friends, relatives and neighbors gathered to work in the vineyards and then celebrate together. In small wineries this still happens today.
Anyone who deals in any way with a winery knows that this is among the most crucial periods of the year. The grape harvest is both the culmination of months' efforts and the very essence of the wine to come. But what is there to know about the harvest? We see it in 10 simple points.
1. What it influences the beginning of the harvest?
There are many elements that influence the ripening of the grapes: the start of the harvest varies from year to year. It depends on altitude and latitude , exposure , the type of grape and the wine you want to obtain, and the climatic conditions of the season. Suffice it to say that even in the same vineyard there are no homogeneous temperature and humidity conditions.
2. When is the right time to harvest?
Sour grapes contains many acids and few sugars; over time the sugar levels increase and acids decrease. When the grapes appear ripe, they are analyzed several times sample of grapes (in the laboratory or with simpler instruments) to understand if the level of sugar and acidity is the desired one.
3. When it starts the harvest?
Between August and September , in the southern areas, early ripening grapes are harvested, those used to produce sparkling wines and those intended for some dessert wines (which will dry on racks).
Most of the grapes are harvested between September and October .
Late-ripening grapes are harvested between October and November (and sometimes even in December).
In winter the frozen grapes are harvested to obtain the prized Eiswein (especially in Germany, Austria, Canada and in Italy in the Aosta Valley).
4. What do we know about grape ripening?
The grapes ripen first in the south-facing vineyards , in less fertile soils with good water drainage, in vineyards with old vines and in those trained with low stock ; and of course where the climate is less rainy and the temperatures are higher .
5. How many ways of harvest do they exist?
There are two approaches to the harvest: by hand or mechanised , i.e. with a harvesting machine (which sucks the grapes or shakes the branches).
6. What is the scalar harvest?
It is also called a multi-step harvest, i.e. when the grapes from the same vineyard or on the same plant are harvested at successive times to ensure the perfect maturation of the individual bunches.
7. What time yes harvest?
The hotter the area, the harvest is done very early in the morning or in the evening : the ideal time to avoid unwanted fermentations. In Australia they are even harvested at night to avoid the heat of the day and to take advantage of the dew to partially dilute the excess sugar.
8. Is the harvest affected by climate change?
Here I am. The increase in average temperature today leads to harvesting about a month earlier than 30 years ago.
9. Can I participate in the grape harvest?
Yes, from Trentino to Sicily there is an increasing number of cellars that open their doors during the harvest. And the activity is also chosen by families with children and companies.
10. What is the secret to a good harvest?
Bringing healthy grapes to the cellar is crucial to making great wines. For this reason, the harvest must be accurate (healthy bunches, not crushed or wet) but also timely : the grapes must be brought to the cellar before the fermentation process begins. Here, it is cleaned and selected to start the magical process that leads to wine.