Grape harvest is the culmination of the winegrower’s work
“September makes the wine”, we’re used to hearing! Indeed, the grape harvest is an essential period in the viticultural year.
They generally take place between September and October in the northern hemisphere, and between February and April in the southern hemisphere.
However, harvest dates depend on a number of factors: the climate (depending on temperatures, rainfall, etc.), the grape varieties planted (the vegetative cycle differs according to the type of grape) and legislation (each AOC has a defined harvest period, although this can be adapted to the needs of individual winegrowers).
Summer 2015 is drawing to a close, after a very hot month of July. The scorching temperatures have encouraged the vines to flourish, while the dry weather has curbed the development of powdery mildew and downy mildew. In the Bordeaux region, as in Loire-Atlantique, the conditions offered by this summer delighted winegrowers, and augured excellent harvests. The 2015 vintage has a good chance of being very interesting. To be continued…
However, other regions are less enthusiastic about this summer. In Alsace, winegrowers are lamenting the (relative) lack of water that has lasted for several months. Under these conditions, the vines produce smaller berries, which inevitably leads to lower yields. Further south, in the Var, the harvest has already begun! The first harvests have taken place in the Bandol AOC, with the harvest of Sauvignon Blanc.
On the whole, the 2015 vintage looks promising. Admittedly, heatwave years don’t usually produce vintages with the greatest ageing potential, but they are nonetheless qualitative vintages.
The grape harvest, also known as wine harvest, is a crucial and exciting time in the world of viticulture and winemaking.
It marks the culmination of months of careful cultivation and is a pivotal step in the production of wine. Here’s an overview of the grape harvest and its significance on a global scale:
The Timing of the Harvest: The timing of the grape harvest is a critical decision for winemakers, as it directly impacts the quality and characteristics of the resulting wine. Harvest typically occurs between late summer and early autumn, with the exact timing varying based on the grape variety, climate, and wine region. Winemakers monitor factors such as sugar levels, acidity, and flavor development to determine the optimal time for picking.
Harvesting Techniques: The harvesting of grapes can be done manually or mechanically, depending on the vineyard’s size, topography, and the preferences of the winemaker. Manual harvesting is often preferred for high-quality wines, as it allows for selective picking of ripe clusters and minimizes the risk of damaging the grapes. Mechanical harvesting, on the other hand, is more efficient and cost-effective, making it suitable for larger vineyards.
Global Diversity: The grape harvest is a truly global phenomenon, occurring in vineyards across the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. In the Northern Hemisphere, including iconic wine regions like France, Italy, Spain, the United States, and many others, harvest typically takes place from August to October. In the Southern Hemisphere, including countries like Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, the harvest occurs from February to April.
Celebration and Tradition: The grape harvest is often accompanied by a sense of celebration and tradition. In many wine regions, it is a festive time marked by harvest festivals and events that bring together local communities and visitors. These celebrations often include grape stomping, music, food, and, of course, the tasting of young wines.
Winemaking Process: Once the grapes are harvested, they undergo the winemaking process. Grapes are destemmed, crushed, and the juice is extracted. For white wines, the juice is typically separated from the grape skins and fermented without prolonged contact. For red wines, the grape skins are left in contact with the juice during fermentation, imparting color, tannins, and flavor.
Varietal Influence: Different grape varieties contribute distinct characteristics to the wine, and the grape harvest plays a significant role in expressing these varietal traits. Factors such as the soil, climate, and winemaking practices also influence the final product.
Impact of Climate Change: Climate change has brought about shifts in traditional growing seasons and harvest times. Winemakers are facing challenges and adapting to changing climate patterns, impacting the ripening of grapes and requiring adjustments in vineyard management practices.
In summary, the grape harvest is a captivating and essential phase in the winemaking calendar, influencing the quality, style, and characteristics of wines produced around the world. It represents the culmination of a year’s worth of effort in the vineyard and sets the stage for the next steps in the fascinating journey from grape to glass.