We started hand picking Brianna last week and will continue with St. Pepin and La Crescent. These grapes will be frozen and then used in making Iowa Prairie Snow®. We expect to move next to machine harvested Brianna.
All other white varieties will be tested for Total Acidity, pH, and sugar level in degrees Brix almost every day until we decide they are ready for harvest.
Rain is usually welcome in the vineyard as long as it doesn’t include high winds and hail, EXCEPT this close to harvest. When it rains right around harvest, all of the water that lands on leaves and on the ground is moved to the grapes by the vine. A heavy rain results in too much water getting into the grapes and the skins will split instead expanding to hold the water. Additional water in the grapes will also change the chemistry of the juice. So, we really don’t want much rain at this point.
While we wait for the grape juice to get just right, the birds are not showing the same restraint. We have netted our red and blue grapes because they have attracted the most birds in the past. This year, for the first time, we are experiencing bird pressure on our white grapes. We don’t have enough netting for the white grapes and are having to use propane cannons, bird calls, and a bird repellant. None of these bird antidotes work perfectly so we are anxious to pick the fruit ASAP!
So, we will harvest white grapes first and then harvest the red grapes. In each variety, we wait for juices chemistries to get just right. Fortunately, the grapes don’t all ripen at the same time so our harvest is spread out over about a month.