Harvest season is a magical time at Wheeler Farms Winery. The entire year has led up to this moment: ripe fruit is finally ready to be taken off the vine and made into wine.
It takes skill and knowledge to perfect the art of the harvest, and we’re sharing with you everything you need to know about what happens during this exciting season. From picking the best Cabernet Sauvignon to the ripest Sauvignon Blanc, we’ve seen it all!
The Harvest Season: Why It Matters
Grape harvest is a crucial time for every winery; what happens now is defining for this year’s wine. Harvest occurs in the fall, as the grapes have been ripening on their vines since Spring.
When it’s time to pick, grapes must be carefully removed from their vines and carried into the winery. The grapes are placed into containers and carried into the winery where more magic happens. But when do these grapes get picked? This answer is different for every winemaker, and as we’ll see, knowledge of not only the grapes but of the vineyard is essential.
Time Is Key: Picking Ripe Grapes
The timing of the pick can greatly influence the wine’s taste. So how do we know when a grape is ripe?
First, some grapes ripen faster, while others need to hang a little longer on the vine to develop complexity. However, the location of the vineyard is also an important factor. For example, winemakers must be wary of the weather patterns that are likely to come to the area that could harm their crop like frost, hail, or rainfall.
As you can see, this is a delicate dance. As harvest season approaches, winemakers are looking for the things only a trained eye can see. They measure sugar levels, which must be high enough—but not too high. Acidity levels, tannins, and phenolic compounds must also be in balance with each other.
When a winemaker perceives that the balance they desire in their wine is reflected in the grapes, it’s time to pick.
Grape Picking: A Hands-On Adventure
Grapes can be harvested mechanically or by hand. Hand harvesting is traditional and often used by smaller wineries. This takes time and skilled workers.
Hand harvesting can be gentler on grapes, allowing them to arrive in the winery without bruises or split skins. But it also allows harvesters to pick the ripest, healthiest bunches that will make the best wine.
To hand harvest, the best clusters are removed with shears or knives, and the whole bunches are carefully laid in containers and carried to the winery.
This season, we’re picking the best Cabernet Sauvignon
There’s something very special about holding a bottle of wine in your hand and knowing which year it was harvested. Knowledge of the weather that year can explain the flavor profile of each wine. This is especially true for Cabernet Sauvignon, a grape known for its ability to take on the expression of the land it grew on.
Now that you’ve learned that there’s so much more to harvest than simply plucking a grape from its vine, we invite you to commemorate this harvest season by reserving a tasting with us.