Taste a good wine and try to discover all its nuances, but what is behind it? Of course, the care in its processing and aging are vital, but also the harvest. Harvesting the grapes at the optimum moment is a determining factor in quality and will allow the desired style of wine to be made. Choosing the exact moment requires a great deal of work, as we will explain below.
The decision iharvests made between the winegrower and the winemaker based on several factors such as sugar concentration, acidity, pH, phenolic maturity, grape variety, style of wine, desired quality, condition of the vineyard, weather conditions (risk of rain, hail) and labor/harvesting machine and processing capacity of the winery.
The harvest is, as we have said, the most important process in winemaking. It is the moment when the fruit of the vineyard is harvested. It is a critical moment where a lot of quality can be lost. Why? Well, once the grapes are harvested, they can be crushed and broken, being the gateway to many microorganisms that can negatively alter their aromas and flavors. In addition, heat enhances the activity of these microorganisms (yeasts, bacteria), hence, to maintain high quality it is crucial to harvest when the grapes are fresh and that the transport time between the vineyard and the winery is minimal.
The harvest is between August and October (northern hemisphere) and between February and April (southern hemisphere). We have already mentioned above the factors that influence the decision to harvest earlier or later. It is to be expected that, if harvested earlier, the wine will have higher acidity and more herbaceous aromas. Similarly, if harvested later, the wine will have lower acidity and more complex flavors.
To determine the degree of ripeness of the grapes, several controls are carried out. Normally, berries are taken from different clusters in different parts of the vine, from different rows and locations within the row, alternately, in order to obtain samples that are as representative as possible. The winemaker tastes the berries, as the taste will be decisive. Once in the winery, the must is made from these samples and an analysis of sugar, acidity and pH is made.
Thus, the ripeness at which the grapes are harvested will also depend on the type of wine to be made. For example, grapes for sparkling wines, characterized by their acidic notes, are usually harvested before the grapes ripen.
The world of grape harvest is much wider than we imagine. Next week, from Barcolobo we will tell you about the types that exist and how they differ.