101 Guide To Wine Harvesting Season
2020 is quickly coming to a finish, which means it’s prime time to discover the year’s harvest. Grape harvesting season typically takes place over 2 months each year, around August to October in the Northern Hemisphere and February to April for the Southern Hemisphere.
Of course, the exact dates vary with each vintage depending on climate conditions and because different grapes ripen at different rates. Climate change also continues to move these dates up over recent years. In a poor vintage, rains cause grapes to swell and ruin the careful balance of sweetness and acidity.
How do grape growers know when to harvest?
The best wine growers are so familiar with the taste of ripe grapes that they can simply walk down a row tasting grapes and intuitively when to pick, but nowadays, harvesting is as much a science as it is an art. This is because the harvest is the single most important decision a grower or winemaker can make each year.
As you probably know, wine grapes are much sweeter than the table grapes you munch on at home. The sweetness, which comes from the sucrose in grapes, are measured in Brix. Did you also know the amount of sugar in the grapes determines the resulting alcohol level? A Cabernet Sauvignon that’s picked at around 26-27 brix makes a wine that’s about 14.5% ABV, while ripeness is Bordeaux is closer to 24 Brix, making a wine of about 13.5% ABV.
A grape can be sweet, but that doesn’t mean it’s ripe enough, since you also want the grape seeds, skin, and stem to be physiologically ripe. This makes the resulting wine tannins taste sweeter rather than bitter, which drastically affects a wine’s finish or aftertaste. Vineyard managers use many tools for measuring Brix, but one of the most common is the hydrometer. They will check every week leading to the harvest, and sometimes every day to harvest different parts of their vineyard at the right moment. Think of it as an obstacle race across different fields.
Many wineries are currently in the midst of their harvest season, and vintage 2020 is promising, with favourable weather conditions in July and August till now in parts of Spain and Italy.
Some wineries we’ve been paying attention to include Pieropan, Lis Neris, and Alvaro Palacios. Over the next few weeks, grapes will be carefully picked from their estate’s vineyards before making their way into pressing centres to extract the juice. We really can’t wait to see how they turn out. Check out their previous vintages below:
The traditional grape grown in this region is Garnacha, which is the primary grape in this wine. Les Terrasses is the second wine of Álvaro Palacios. Set alongside the great wines, Ermita and Finca Dofí, Les Terrasses is produced under simpler guidelines, easy, relaxed and more diverse in nature, yet nevertheless, it still has a great personality and a good balance of opulence and elegance. Les Terrasses spends a year in French oak barrels, 20% of which are new and the remaining 80% are in their second or third year, used in the production of earlier wines. We’re expecting great things from their 2020 vintage.
A belief in the central importance of the vine, an unceasing pursuit of quality and innovative winemaking processes are the key characteristics of the Pieropan identity, which we can expect from this year’s vintage. As for the La Rocca Soave Classico DOC 2018, this is a characterful wine, reminiscent of exotic fruit and nuts on the nose. Soft and persistent on the palate, with hints of spice, length and elegance. Makes an excellent partner to complex dishes, even with stronger risottos, salt cod and other fish including salmon, scallops and crab.
Lis Neris is located in the centre of the famous wine-growing region of Friuli, in the village of San Lorenzo. Today, Les Neris estate’s prominent standards apply both to their vineyard and wine practice. Their goal is to produce the highest quality of wines while creating ideal growing conditions. Fermentation of this 100% Pinot Grigio takes place in stainless steel tanks at a temperature of 20-22°C. It displays aromatics of pink fruits in a terroir-driven style – rich and soft with a gently savoury finish.