Story by Jordan Lacenski
On the Emerald Coast, we are still splashing around the Gulf, but in Wine Country, harvest is in full swing. Winemakers are picking grapes that have matured to perfection from August to October. At the end of summer, grapes begin to ripen and lose their bright green color as they turn to red, purple or yellow. Vines start pumping sugars into the grapes, which will later ferment into alcohol. And then…with Fall on the horizon, harvest begins.
In the Northern Hemisphere, growers have been picking their grapes to prepare for sorting and crushing. Knowing when grapes are ready is no easy task. Growers examine the texture, the thickness of the skin, as well as the seed and stem colors when deciding if a grape is ready for picking. Growers are keeping their eyes on vines with fewer grapes and fewer leaves, as the vines with fewer grapes are typically more ripe and higher quality, and leaves can block the sun.
Some grapes ripen quickly, while others ripen after other varieties are already being transformed into wine. Closely monitoring the grape’s development, winemakers test the juice, while the lab checks the pH levels and measurements of sugar. Balance is key between sugars, acidity, tannins, and flavors to produce the desired product.
By September, winemakers have harvested Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Chenin Blanc and Viognier are typically harvested next, while merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are being picked right about now. If you’re thinking of traveling to wine country, it is the perfect time.
Many wineries have different methods. Traditionally harvesting by hand still remains preferred for high-quality wines, while others harvest mechanically.
Once the grapes are freshly picked, they are ready to be sorted and the better quality grapes are crushed. The grapes’ skins break open allowing yeast do what it does best and ferment.
As you sit and enjoy the final product this evening, think about all that goes into every grape used to make your favorite wines. It’s no wonder there is such a love and appreciation for the craft.
Cheers. Proost. Sláinte. Salute. Salud.
– Jordan Lacenski: Founder & Chief Innovation Officer of BrandBoss Creative