Let’s Talk GrenacheSeptember 22, 2020
The Robert Mondavi EffectSeptember 30, 2020
As we transition into the autumn harvest of September, wineries are experiencing their busiest time of the year. Although the leaves are changing and falling, grape vineyards are just starting to ripen, not just in sweetness, but everything that also accompanies the fruit such as its outer layer, seeds, and even the stems. This is called physiological ripeness and is the prime time for wineries to invest their time into what they call, Harvest or Crush Season.
Each grape is carefully picked based on just the right time in each climate and the grape variety. Napa Valley, for example, has their Harvest last anywhere from August to early November. The earlier harvested grape varieties are typically white wine grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Chardonnay and the ones that typically introduce crush season. Red wine grapes are usually harvested later in the season and include Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties.
Harvest is the best time for grapes to be picked due to the sweetness the physiological ripeness produces. Sweeter overall grapes lead to tannins of similar flavor instead of a bitter flavor if picked too soon. Once picked, the grapes are sorted and any leftover leaves, sticks, bugs and unmatured or damaged grapes are removed. The crushed and pressed grapes are left to ferment anywhere from a few days to a month and then placed into oak barrels or stainless-steel tanks for aging for any duration of time the winery requests. For harvest workers, once the aging begins, Harvest season is complete and so begins Cabernet Season, where they can relax and enjoy what all their hard work over the past few months has brought them.