When to harvest wine you ask

When to harvest you ask?

When to harvest you ask? That is a great question and one which we ask ourselves many many times each and every day….

When to harvest you ask? cairdean estate

Harvest is arguably the most beautiful time of the year in Napa Valley (it is difficult to discount mustard season of course). Now the leaves of the trees turn majestic auburn colors as the clusters of berries hang beckoning from the vines. Through Napa Valley you can sense the fermentations underway as a mix of yeast, grapes, and alcohol fill the air you breathe as you drive along the historic Highway 29. It is during this time of year that the Cairdean winemaking team spends a great portion of their mornings vineyard visiting to evaluate vine health and wine grape maturity and a great portion of their afternoons and evenings working in the lab and tasting in order to determine the absolute best day for each and every harvest.

When to harvest wine you ask

First and foremost before selecting a date for harvest we consider the fruit. How does it look, feel, taste, and smell. Is the fruit ripe? Are there green vegetal characters remaining? How are the skins holding up and do they release color (for red winegrapes)? What do the seeds look like? How do the grapes taste overall? Is the acid or bitterness overwhelming? Are the sugars high enough? Quickly this leads to the over-all health of the vineyard lines of questioning… are the vines healthy? Do they need water, nutrients, leafing or other maintenance? (If you see a winemaker/enologist heading into a vineyard with a determined but confused look in their eye muttering something to themselves don’t be alarmed, just smile and waive and understand it is part of our process and not necessarily a escapee from our local mental health facility). If the fruit is not yet fully mature and ready for harvest, will it ripen on these vines or has this fruit on these vines at this site with this weather reached their peak? Does the winery have tank space? Does the vineyard manager have an availability to harvest? What? Is that rain in the weather forecast at 67% just after/before that potential 108 degree heat spike? I don’t think that Zinfandel 45 minutes off the valley floor will hold up to those events! Somebody help because I seem to have misplaced my crystal ball…

Okay, so you get it… it is so beautiful here and as excited tourists fill the valley and line our sidewalks and drive to winery after winery peering out from their vehicles amazed at what a lovely place we here work and live in, we do our best to stay calm, cool and collected and appreciative as we, the sleep deprived, stop in for gas, a sandwich, and a much needed quad-shot iced latte before marching off to our next destination. Did I mention that we happily take on harvest volunteers?  🙂






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