Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fall 2011 Harvest

2011 was, like the two previous harvests, late.  November 3rd. There are times when Mother Nature forces your hand and this was one of them. Winter storms were in the way and even though we wanted more sugar, it was going to be now or perhaps never.  The worst-case scenario would be to wait and have the fruit take on water from the rainstorm and end up with lower sugars than we already had.  

Winemakers like "hang time", the term that they use for the period of flavor development that happens in a season where the grapes develop enough sugar for harvesting but still need the benefit of time on the vine. At this point the winemaker is looking for ripeness in the seed tannins, the absence of "green" flavors and development of flavor complexity.  All these go above and beyond what can be measured by Brix, the numerical value for level of sugar in the grape.  After sugar you need other indicators of ripeness that you can only find out by tasting the grapes.

In a perfect year the winemaker gets to make the call of the optimal time to harvest. Lately Mother Nature makes the call by weather that delays ripeness and threatens to ruin the crop.