My General View of Grape Harvesting

Wine is one of the most popular drinks in the world. There are countless grape fields dedicated to the sake of making wine. One of the most important steps in the production of wine is the harvesting of wine grape. In this article, we will feature basic knowledges about the grape harvesting.

1. The Time for Harvesting Wine Grape

In the north hemisphere, the harvesting season is around the late August to the early October. Some sparkling wine needs unripe grapes to maintain the acidity, the harvesting for these wine grapes will be around the late July to the early August.

A vine yard in California (in the north hemisphere)

In the south hemisphere, the majority of wine grapes will be harvested from February to April. In warmer places, the harvesting of grape can be as early as in January. In the cool sites, the harvest season is in June.

A vine yard in New Zeland (in the south hemisphere)

2. When Can the Grape be Harvested?

The grapes can be harvested if they are ripe enough to make wine. Therefore, knowing the correct ripeness of the grape in the field is extremely important. If the ripeness is wrong, the grapes may end up being useless.

The ripeness of the wine grape is decided by the content of sugar and acidity within the grapes.

In the past, the ancient wine makers would taste the grape to check the ripeness.
In modern time, the wine makers use a tool called “refractometer” to measure the sugar and acidity level.

A refractometer to measure the suger and acidity content in grapes

3. Manual Harvesting or Mechanical Harvesting?

In the past, only human labors covered the harvesting of wine grape. However, with the development of industry, the harvesting has been turned mechanical in the last century. The mechanical wine grape harvester was introduced in the 1960s and it quickly became popular. In some countries where there is a lack of labor force, the appearance of the mechanical harvesters on the vine yards is really a relief for the government.

A mechanical grape harvester has rubber sticks to beat on the vine and make the vine drop the fruits to a holding bin inside the harvester. Mechanical harvesters have very high capacity compared to human workers. Yet the machines cannot distinguish between good and rotten grapes or between ripe and unripe grapes… Another bad point of mechanical harvesters is that they may tear of the skin of the fruits quite usually, which make the fruits easy to be oxidized.

Some wines require strictly about the quality of grapes. Only human workers are able to pick the correct grapes for these requirements.

The geographical location of the vine yard will also affect the choice of harvesters. In some hot place where the grapes must be picked during the cool night, using a mechanical harvester will be more economical and effective than human workers.  However, there are places where the vine yards are on steep terrain. It is almost impossible for a mechanical harvester to run in those vine yards. In those cases, human workers are a better choice.

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