Vintage 2020 is Now Done and Dusted
By Cathy Howard • 25.04.2020
By Cathy Howard • 09.02.2020
Christmas and New Year holiday memories quickly fade as the grapes start to ripen, and the start of vintage is suddenly upon us! In Summer, I start sampling our grapes, starting with the whites, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.
This is a question that I often get asked at Cellar Door as visitors gaze out over our vineyard in Summer and see the ripening bunches on the vines.
Sampling the grapes is how I work out when the best to pick the grapes for each wine that we make.
I arm myself with a bucket and a pair of snips and collect bunches of grapes from vines growing in each vineyard block. I walk up and down several rows, zig zagging my way up and back rows, randomly snipping off bunches from vines along the entire length of both rows and dropping the bunches into the bucket.
I make sure that I select a mix of bunches that are growing at different spots in the vine canopy. Bunches that are shaded inside the canopy covered entirely by leaves, bunches that are semi-shaded by leaves, and bunches that are unshaded and growing in the full sun.
I sample like this as each bunch will be at different ripeness levels and I need to collect a sample which is representative of all of the vines in that block. As well as sampling the bunches, I pluck berries off bunches as I walk along, tasting the flavours in the berries.
The reason why I take bunch samples from up and down a row, and from different growing positions on the vine, and taste berries up and down the rows, is that there is variation in ripeness levels due to the variations in soils and aspects across a block of vines, even though all of the vines are the same variety.
The tasting gives me an idea overall of the flavours across the block. By analysing the juice from the grape bunches for sugar and acidity, tells me the average ripeness level of the grapes in the block.
I then have a snapshot of what the flavours are and what the overall ripeness levels are, which I can then use to predict how many weeks away harvest is likely to be. I repeat the bunch sampling and berry tasting a week later to get an idea of the rate that ripening is occurring in that block. Then I repeat again the following week, and so on until the block is harvested.
This is an absolutely critical part of the winemaking process as the harvesting decision, (when to pick the grapes), is crucial to making a wine of the quality and in the style that you have been planning for. This is where all of those years of winemaking experience really pays off!
One of the most obvious reasons to make a harvest at night is because when the harvest season starts it is still summer and it is hot. It is during the night when temperatures drop
Wineries typically harvest between midnight and early morning because the cooler nighttime temperatures help concentrate and preserve the fresh fruit aromas and flavors and stabilize sugar levels
We are talking about grape picking, also known as harvest season. This grape harvesting period happens between August and November in the northern hemisphere, while in the southern hemisphere it is between February and April,
One of the most critical decisions a winemaker or grower must make is when to pick the grapes. Unlike most fruits, grapes do not continue to ripen after being picked. If picked too early, the resulting wine can be tart and overly herbaceous
When it comes to picking grapes, harvesting by machine is the best way in my book. It is incredibly efficient because the grapes go from being on the vine to crushed and into a chilled tank within the span of a half an hour. When grapes are picked by hand, that process takes a minimum of four hours
Whicher Ridge acknowledges the people of the Noongar Land and recognises their connection to culture, community and Country. We pay our respects to their elders, past and present. Whicher Ridge supports the Uluru Statement.