In the wine world there are small mantras, which are repeated in a somewhat mechanical way. One of these concerns the harvest, and in particular the quality of the bunches, which must be "perfectly healthy". Let's see what this really means and why the choices made during the harvest have such an influence on the wine that enters our glass.
If you have ever wanted to visit a winery between the end of August and September you will have experienced the sacredness of that period. The harvest is truly a delicate, almost sacred moment: in those handful of weeks the winemakers harvest the fruit of a year of work and their choices influence the wine they will produce. Harvest only healthy bunches, they say: here's everything you need to know, because even apparently simple concepts tell a lot if you have the curiosity to delve into them.
What does it mean to harvest healthy grapes?
It means, during the harvest, only harvesting bunches with grains with entirely intact skin , healthy and uncrushed berries. For this reason, containers that are not too large are used, to avoid crushing.
Why is it important, during the harvest, to collect only perfectly intact grapes?
For at least three reasons:
- By harvesting healthy grapes, not attacked by diseases, an equally healthy must is obtained, resulting in the healthiness of the wine.
- If the bunches are perfectly intact , the odorous compounds are not lost , which are volatile and would impoverish the aromatic profile of the wine. This is a less obvious factor but it makes an extraordinary difference in the quality of the aromas of the wine .
- Finally, intact grapes prevent the start of early and unwanted spontaneous fermentations .
– Read also: three factors that influence quality in the vineyard
Manual harvest or mechanical harvest?
With the hand-harvested harvest, the healthiest, most intact and mature bunches can be selected.
Mechanical harvesting is instead carried out with harvesting machines that harvest the grapes by shaking: the process is faster than manual harvesting but does not allow that level of selection of the bunches.
– Read also: 10 things to know about the grape harvest
The time factor in harvest
A fundamental issue during the harvest is the need to transport the grapes quickly to where they will be vinified, to avoid premature maceration or fermentation . The goal is always to pursue the highest quality.