Exhausting, exhilarating, nerve wracking, and exciting are just some of the adjectives to describe wine grape harvest time. You prepare all year and the pace is frantic to ensure the winery is ready for the new vintage. This year it was extra hectic because we are behind in bottling and it seemed that every piece of equipment needed to be repaired. However, we were able to bottle some of the 2016 wines in order to make way for the wine production process. In addition to getting the equipment repaired, tuned up, and cleaned, new barrels have been ordered and constant monitoring in the vineyard is occurring to determine the picking schedule.
As of September 1st, we have only harvested part of the Viognier. The fruit is amazing; and we have harvested over six tons per acre so far. That is a lot of Viognier!
Let’s refresh your knowledge of few harvest related terms.
Brix: LDV Winery uses a refractometer to determine the sugar levels by measuring the brix or sugar to water ratio within the grape. This measurement, in combination with taste, visual appearance, and pH is used to determine when it is time to harvest.
Must: As soon as grapes reach the winery, they are put into the destemmer that removes the berries from the stems. The de-stemmed berries are pumped into the fermentation vessel. This combination of juice, skins, seeds, and pulp is called “must.”
Fermentation: Red wine grapes ferment in contact with the skins and pulp which give the wine its color, tannins, and flavor. After the initial processing, the must may be allowed to begin a natural fermentation process initiated by the native yeast (those occurring naturally on the grape skins and in the air at harvest times). Conversely, the winemaker may choose to inoculate with cultured yeast to begin the fermentation process. Different types of yeast will result in different characteristics in the finished wine. Fermentation is a simple yet complex process of the yeast eating the sugar resulting in the byproducts of alcohol and carbon dioxide.
LDV hires a skilled harvest crew every year but depends on the Crush Pad Junkies (our crew that helps with harvest each year) to assist Curt and Mike on the crush pad. Sky Islander Wine Club members and friends of LDV have been invaluable helping LDV during harvest and processing every year. Let us know if you want to join the fun!