The chemistries of the juice from each grape variety determine when we will harvest them. Specifically, we are going out into the vineyards every day to take samples in a random, scientific manner. We take a total of about 60 berries from different rows, the tops and bottoms of the clusters, and both sides of the rows. We make juice from the samples and test it for Titratable Acidity, pH or strength of the acid, and sugar levels expressed in °Brix or percent sugar. We also taste the juice.
When the fruit is harvested, the cellar team focuses on processing fruit for fermentations that will follow. When we are making a white or rosé wine, we destem and crush the grapes and them pump them into the press where the skins and seeds are separated from the juice. The juice is pumped directly into the tank in which it will be fermented while the skins and seeds will be moved to the mulch pile, dried, and spread sometime next spring in the field where we have soybeans planted.
Each press cycle takes about two hours and 15 minutes to load the press, press the fruit, and remove the skins and seeds from the press. Then, we start over and process the next batch. Each batch is about 3.5 tons of fruit making 500–600 gallons of juice or wine.
When we make a red wine, we pump the juice with the skins and seeds to the tanks for fermentation. We need to have the skins present for as long as possible because that is where the color and flavors are. After the alcoholic fermentation is finished, we will press the wine off the skins and seeds and then let the malolactic conversion finish.
We have harvested and processed Brianna and Edelweiss. Both are grapes used to make white wines. We start fermentations as soon as we can get the temperature of the juice up to about 60°F.
Generally, grapes used to make white wines are the first to be harvested but that can change in some years. Then, the harvest of red grapes used to make rosés and red wines will start. This year, we will probably be harvesting until late September. Several days of hot weather could speed that up.