The moment right before the harvest
tasting grapes in the vineyards

Società Agricola Le Buche srl

Harvest time in a winery is a key moment of the year: you are about to collect almost one year of work and no mistakes are allowed. It can look as a rather chaotic moment as many activities are running in parallel due to the fact that not all grape varieties are ripe and ready at the same moment! That means: tasting the fruit in the vineyard to decide the harvest kick-off, have the people and the equipment ready at the right moment, be ready in the cellar to receive huge quantities of fruits that need to be unloaded, sorted, pressed, and finally having an eye on the start of the fermentation once the musts are in the vats.
Therefore in that moment, we focus on three aspects that influence that decision:

- What type of wine you want to make (the style),
- The level of ripeness of the grapes, related to the wine typology you want to get,
- Which type of winemaking to apply to the must to get the type of wine you want

At the end of the veraison phase (the moment when the berries turn from green to black or yellow), grape samples are carried out in the vineyard to check the sugar content, total acidity, tartaric and malic acid levels, and the phenolic ripeness of the skin and the pips.

By performing these analyzes weekly, or even daily near the harvest day, you can track the constant increase in sugar content and the decrease in the total acidity value so as to determine the right time for harvesting and for the start of the winemaking operation.

But what are the main indications to keep in mind?

If we want to obtain light and fragrant white wines, the grapes will be harvested before complete ripening, being careful to have a total acidity higher than 7gr / liter. The sugar content must be less than 17 ° Babo.

To obtain structured white wines, on the other hand, it will be necessary to wait for the complete ripening of the grapes. The total acidity will be between 5 and 6 gr / liter and the sugar content of more than 20 ° Babo.

And for red wines?
It is a similar procedure as for whites if you want to obtain a light red wine for quick consumption or a red wine for aging.
The acidity will be 6.5 gr / liter and sugar content lower than 18 ° Babo for the former and total acidity higher than 5 gr / liter for the latter.
For structured wines, if grape berries are crushed, the grape must leave the fingers dirty with red and the seeds inside the pulp must perfectly separated.

The focus is on total acidity which, if too high, can create fermentation problems, slowing it down until it stops completely.
Harvesting grapes at the right degree of acidity is therefore essential to avoid fermentation problems during the winemaking process.
It obviously involves serious analysis of the samples in a professional laboratory. But we do not neglect the taste and visual tests.

Riccardo and Giuseppe Olivi, after years of experience, continue to go to the vineyard every day before the harvest to taste the grapes, take samples and confirm their feelings with the laboratory results.

And when taste and laboratory outcomes get together... you are ready for the harvest!
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