Preparing for Harvest
Countdown to Harvest
As harvest quickly approaches, I’ve been walking the vineyard several times a day and getting organized in the winery. It looks like we have some cool weather this week, which will hopefully continue. This is perfect ripening weather, the best weather we could ask for in the lead-up to harvest.
We’re starting to do some sampling in the vineyard to see what our Brix (sugar) numbers are. We measure sugar, total acidity and pH levels to help with our farming decisions, but more important is monitoring flavor and seed development. The only way you can do that is to eat the fruit!
The seeds start out green with a very bitter taste, but eventually turn brown and develop a texture and nutty flavor that’s similar to the unpopped kernels at the bottom of a bowl of popcorn. Our children, Maya and Lucas, are helping me sample the grapes, and learning what to look for. Every night after dinner, we go out to the vineyard and have grapes for dessert.
Since our winery isn’t quite large enough for the amount of wine we produce, I need to be completely prepared once harvest arrives. All our grape totes have been brought to the winery, and I’ll need to clean them so they are ready to be filled with grape clusters. This preparedness gives us the ability to flip a switch and start picking at any moment. I have found over the years that when you are better prepared, you make better decisions during harvest and it’s a safer environment when working long hours.
This is the point when all the wineries in the Valley are starting to get ready for harvest and there’s excitement in the air. Our winery neighbors are all comparing notes about when they’ll start picking and what’s happening in the vineyard. It reminds me of how collegial the whole winemaking industry is: it’s a great, collaborative community and, in a way, we’re all in this upcoming harvest together.
Winemaker and Co-Owner, Ayres Vineyard & Winery