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Kim Tyrer
 
7 March 2013 | Vintage | Kim Tyrer

Why do you Harvest Grapes at Night

We harvest grapes at night when we mechanically harvest, especially whites. The grapes are cool at night which is what you want, cool juice, especially whites. When you mechanically harvest grapes there is a lot of free run juice in the bins which is susceptible to oxidation which you don't want. Most days are also still hot days so if it is a 30 degree day the grapes and free juice would be 30 degrees. But at night the cool temps of 15 or so degrees is much better. Much like wine once it is in the bottle.

The question of using mechanical harvesting versus traditional hand picking is a source of contention in the wine industry. Mechanical harvesting of grapes has been one of the major changes in many vineyards in the last third of a century. First introduced commercially in the 1960s, it has been adopted in different wine regions for various economic, labor and winemaking reason. In Australia, the reduced work force in the wine industry has made the use of mechanized labor almost a necessity.

A mechanical vine harvester works by beating the vine with rubber sticks to get the vine to drop its fruit onto a conveyor belt that brings the fruit to a holding bin. As technology improves mechanical harvesters have become more sophisticated in distinguishing grape clusters from mud, leaves and other particles.

Plus there are other added advantages. You can pick all night and have the fruit at the winery door ready to process at 6am. In the old days you would pick all day and then process all night which made the vintage day long. Plus getting people to hand pick fruit during the day, especially hot days can be very tiring for the workers. Sun burn, sun stroke, bees, and slowed work production are issues. Plus picking 4 HA of grapes would take approximately 10 pickers and 8 hours whereas mechanically it takes approximately 4 hours and 3 people.

I love working in the wine industry, all aspects, except hand picking. I hate it! I don't know why? The heat, the bees, the back pain, or maybe because I was slave laboured into it as a child. I would rather prune all winter than hand pick for one day. Other people love it. The view of the vineyard being outdoors, the romance, the team building and gossip..........? I would rather lift all the bins onto the back of the Ute and do so, to get out of picking for a couple of minutes. And I can tell you lifting X amount of full bins on the back of the Ute is back breaking stuff but I enjoy it more than hand picking???

I am hand picking the Pinot on Friday. I am really excited out it. I know I have to hand pick which I am dreading. I know everyone will tease me because I will be off doing lots of 'little jobs" in between.....but that Pinot fruit and making it into wine. That's the glory stuff! That's what's exciting!

The harvesting of wine grapes (vintage) is one of the most crucial steps in the process of winemaking.The time of harvest is determined primarily by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannins levels with winemakers basing their decision to pick based on the style of wine they wish to produce. The weather can also shape the timetable of harvesting with the threat of heat, rain, hail, and frost which can damage the grapes and bring about various vine disease. In addition to determining the time of the harvest, winemakers and vineyard owners must also determine whether to utilize hand pickers or mechanical harvesters.The question of using mechanical harvesting versus traditional hand picking is a source of contention in the wine industry. Mechanical harvesting of grapes has been one of the major changes in many vineyards in the last third of a century. First introduced commercially in the 1960s, it has been adopted in different wine regions for various economic, labor and winemaking reasons. In Australia, the reduced work force in the wine industry has made the use of mechanized labor almost a necessity.

A mechanical vine harvester works by beating the vine with rubber sticks to get the vine to drop its fruit onto a conveyor belt that brings the fruit to a holding bin. As technology improves mechanical harvesters have become more sophisticated in distinguishing grape clusters from mud, leaves and other particles.

Throughout the history of wine, winemakers would use the sugar and acid levels of the grape as a guide in determining ripeness. Early winemakers would taste the grape to get this gauge but more modern winemaking would use a refractometer to get a measure of the sugar levels in the form Brix and a titration  test to determine the titrable acid within the grape. In recent times there has been more of an emphasis on the "physiological"ripeness of the grape, usually in the form of tannins and other phenolics.

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aa
@ 30/11/2016 at 9:44 PM
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