Wine Cellar Innovations Blog

The Time Is “Ripe” For Wine Harvest Season!

September 26th, 2016

Merry Monday salutations, fellow winos! If you live somewhere in North America, it shouldn’t be hard to guess what time of the year this is. Yup, yup – it’s the wine harvest season and the best time to pack that suitcase and tour the wine countries.

In the Northern Hemisphere, grape harvest season is usually from August to October. These are the perfect months to schedule a relaxing holiday to wine country because: one, the weather is a little cooler; two, the grapes are ripe; and three, everywhere is bustling with activity. Note that the wine harvest season takes place for about 2 months each year. This is owing to wine grapes ripening at various rates. Here’s a helpful season chart to serve as your guide, courtesy of the Winefolly:

Wine Harvest Season

Getting ahead of the game: knowing when to harvest!

Wine growers are, of course, the best people who can tell when the wine grapes are literally ripe for the picking. Years and years of experience coupled with passion for wine have made them so familiar with the taste of ripeness that they can walk down a row tasting grapes and know intuitively when to pick. But of course, there are also lots of scientific studies to back up the “timing” theories for wine harvest. For the most part, there are two factors that are taken into consideration when determining the right time to harvest: the sweetness level of the grapes and the so-called “physiological ripeness.”

Let’s talk about sweetness level first. It should be remembered that wine grapes are a whole lot sweeter than table grapes. What’s the significance does this distinction have? Actually, the sweetness level of the grapes determines the resulting alcohol level. Sweetness comes from sucrose in grapes and is measured in Brix. One of the most commean measuring tools for Brix is a hydrometer. So what happens is this: the vineyard managers will check every week down to the time of harvest so that they can harvest each part of their vineyard at the right moment. There are times when they even need to check on a daily basis. “In a poor vintage, rains cause grapes to swell and ruin the careful balance of sweetness and acidity.”

The second factor is the physiological ripeness of the grapes. Physiological ripeness would refer to the other parts of the grape (the seeds, skin and stems) that are also ripe. When they ripen, you will notice that the seeds will taste less bitter. The colors also change from green to yellowish hues. It is this change that makes the resulting wine tannin taste sweeter. Tannin is known to affect a wine’s finish or aftertaste.

So go on, pack that suitcase, and head straight to wine country – the time is indeed “ripe” for the true-blue wino! ^_^

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