In our previous post, we showed you how we collect cluster samples from our two growers’ vineyards. Now, we show you what happens next.
The harvest timing decision is based on many factors, and several of those can be studied in the lab. Dave brought the samples to the lab and crushed them in those plastic Ziploc bags to extract the juice from the berries. He then let the juice sit in the bags for a while to soak up color and tannins from the skins and seeds (this process is an attempt to emulate the process that occurs during fermentation).
Because it clearly takes an entire village to produce a glass of wine, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Drew Voit of Harper Voit Wines. Drew is a part of our advisory team, helping us monitor the growth of the pinot noir vines and grapes. Drew also has a great lab facility that we’re using for analysis of the juice samples after their “soak” in the skins and seeds.
Here, Dave and Drew conduct a few tests. First, they check the pH of the juice.
They then look at the color and taste the flavors of the juice. Even at this stage, it is possible to pick up some of the flavors that will be characteristic of the final product.
They also look at the berry seeds: during the growing season the berries go from green, hard, and bitter to brown, crunchy, and nutty.
Then they look at the weather forecast. The grapes should be as dry as possible when harvested (besides, nobody wants to harvest in the rain).
With this information, we can go back to our growers and let them know how the vineyard is developing and how close we think we are to harvest time. For Fred Robinson’s vineyard, we might be picking as soon as this coming weekend (September 28). At Tonnelier, it looks like we might need another week or two for the grapes to reach their peak ripeness.