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The
harvest Harvesting is the process of gathering a ripe crop from the field Field may refer to: Expanses of open ground * Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes * Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of an ...

harvest
ing of
wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from Fermentation in winemaking, fermented grapes. Yeast in winemaking, Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol and carbon dioxide, releasing heat in the process. Different ...

wine
grape A grape is a fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term ...

grape
s (
Vintage File:The Vintagers after a Miniature of the Dialogues de Saint Gregoire Thirteenth Century Manuscript of the Royal Library of Brussels.png, ''The Vintagers'', after a miniature of the "Dialogues de Saint Gregoire" (thirteenth century)—manuscript ...

Vintage
) is one of the most crucial steps in the process of
wine-making Winemaking or vinification is the production of wine, starting with the selection of the fruit, its Ethanol fermentation, fermentation into alcohol, and the bottling of the finished liquid. The history of wine-making stretches over millennia. The s ...
. The time of harvest is determined primarily by the
ripeness In Law of the United States, United States law, ripeness refers to the readiness of a case for litigation; "a claim is not ripe for adjudication if it rests upon contingent future events that may not occur as anticipated, or indeed may not occur at ...
of the grape as measured by
sugar Sugar is the generic name for , soluble s, many of which are used in food. Simple sugars, also called s, include , , and . Compound sugars, also called s or double sugars, are molecules made of two monosaccharides joined by a . Common examp ...

sugar
,
acid An acid is a or capable of donating a (hydrogen ion H+) (a ), or, alternatively, capable of forming a with an (a ). The first category of acids are the proton donors, or s. In the special case of , proton donors form the H3O+ and are ...
and
tannin Tannins (or tannoids) are a class of , ic s that bind to and s and various other organic compounds including s and s. The term ''tannin'' (from ''tanner'', from ''tannāre'', from ''tannum'', ) refers to the use of oak and other bark ...
levels with winemakers basing their decision to pick based on the style of wine they wish to produce. The
weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a layer or a set of layers of gases surrounding a p ...

weather
can also shape the timetable of harvesting with the threat of heat, rain, hail, and frost which can damage the grapes and bring about various
vine disease This is a list of diseases of grape A grape is a fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means by which angiosperms ...
s. In addition to determining the time of the harvest, winemakers and vineyard owners must also determine whether to use hand pickers or mechanical harvesters. The harvest season typically falls between August & October in the
Northern Hemisphere The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remain ...

Northern Hemisphere
and February & April in the
Southern Hemisphere The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere Hemisphere may refer to: * A half of a sphere As half of the Earth * A hemispheres of Earth, hemisphere of Earth ** Northern Hemisphere ** Southern Hemisphere ** Eastern Hemisphere ** Western He ...

Southern Hemisphere
. With various climate conditions,
grape varieties This list of grape varieties includes cultivated grape A grape is a fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are the means b ...
, and wine styles the harvesting of grapes could happen in every month of the calendar year somewhere in the world. In the
New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The re ...
it is often referred to as the ''crush''.J. Robinson (ed) ''"The
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London, southeast of Birmingham, and northeast of Bristol. The city is home to the Unive ...

Oxford
Companion to Wine"'' Third Edition pg 338-339 Oxford University Press 2006


Harvest season

The majority of the world's wine producing regions lie between the
temperate In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use ...
latitude In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the ...

latitude
s of 30° and 50° in both hemispheres with regions lying closer to the
equator The Equator is a , about in circumference, that divides into the and hemispheres. It is an located at 0 degrees , halfway between the and poles. In , as applied in , the equator of a rotating (such as a ) is the parallel (circle of l ...

equator
typically harvesting earlier due to their warmer climates. In the Northern Hemisphere, vineyards in
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially called the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or politi ...

Cyprus
begin harvesting as early as July. In California some
sparkling wine Sparkling wine is a wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from fermented grape juice. Yeast Yeasts are eukaryotic, single-celled microorganisms classified as members of the fungus kingdom. The first yeast originated hun ...
grapes are harvested in late July to early August at a slightly unripe point to help maintain
acidity An acid is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically neutral group of two or more atoms ...
in the wine. The majority of Northern Hemisphere harvesting occurs in late August to early October with some
late harvest wine Late may refer to: * LATE, an acronym which could stand for: ** Limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy Limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy (LATE) is a term that describes a prevalent condition with impaired memory a ...
grapes being harvested throughout the autumn. In Germany, Austria, the United States and Canada,
ice wine Ice wine (or icewine; german: Eiswein) is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing for a more concentrated grap ...
grapes can be harvested as late as January. In the Southern Hemisphere harvest can begin as early as January 1 in some of the warmer climate sites in
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
, Australia. The majority of Southern Hemisphere harvesting occurs between the months of February and April with some cool climate sites like
Central Otago Central Otago is located in the inland part of the Otago Otago (, ; mi, Ōtākou ) is a regions of New Zealand, region of New Zealand located in the southern half of the South Island administered by the Otago Regional Council. It has an area ...
, New Zealand picking late harvest wine grapes in June. Recent
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
s (particularly
global warming Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been , but the current changes are more rapid than any known events in Earth's history. The main cau ...

global warming
) have shifted the harvest season in some countries ; future weather patterns may exceed a climatic threshold in some vineyards where it will be more difficult to maintain the current wine quality, however they could also push some regions into more optimal climatic regimes for the production of equilibred grapes.


Ripeness

Throughout the
history of wine Wine has been produced for thousands of years, with evidence of ancient wine production in Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country located at ...
, winemakers would use the
sugar Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrate is a disaccharide A disaccharide (also called a double sugar or ''biose'') is the sugar formed when two monosaccharides are joined by glycosidic linkage. Like monosacc ...
and acid levels of the grape as a guide in determining ripeness. Early winemakers tasted the grapes to gauge ripeness. Modern winemakers use a
refractometer A refractometer is a laboratory or field device for the measurement of an index of refraction In optics, the refractive index (also known as refraction index or index of refraction) of a material is a dimensionless number that describes how f ...

refractometer
to measure high sugar levels and °Brix or
titration Titration (also known as titrimetry and volumetric analysis) is a common laboratory method of quantitative chemical analysis Analytical chemistry studies and uses instruments and methods used to separate, identify, and quantify matter. In pr ...

titration
tests (using an indicator such as
phenolphthalein Phenolphthalein is a chemical compound with the chemical formula, formula carbon, C20hydrogen, H14oxygen, O4 and is often written as "HIn" or "phph" in shorthand notation. Phenolphthalein is often used as an indicator in acid–base titrations. For ...

phenolphthalein
) to determine the
titratable acidityIn chemistry, Titratable acid generally refers to any acid that can lose proton(s) in an acid–base reaction. The term is used slightly differently in other fields. For example, in renal physiology, Titratable acid is a term to describe acids such ...
within the grape. In recent times there has been more of an emphasis on the "physiological" ripeness of the grape, usually in the form of tannins and other phenolics.J. Robinson ''Jancis Robinson's Wine Course'' Third Edition pg 75 Abbeville Press 2003 Currently, tasting is the only way to measure tannin ripeness, which can take experience and skill to do accurately. have not yet fully explained the complex processes that go into the ripening of tannins but most believe it begins with the
polymerization In polymer chemistry, polymerization (American English), or polymerisation (British English), is a process of reacting monomer, monomer molecules together in a chemical reaction to form polymer chains or three-dimensional networks.Clayden, J ...
of small
astringent 200px, A crystal of the astringent alum An astringent (sometimes called adstringent) is a chemical that shrinks or constricts body tissue In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including thei ...
tannins into larger molecules which are perceived by the
taste bud Taste buds contain the taste receptor cells, which are also known as gustatory cells. The taste receptor A taste receptor is a type of Receptor (biochemistry), cellular receptor which facilitates the sensation of taste. When food or other su ...

taste bud
s as being softer.K. MacNeil ''The Wine Bible'' pg 10-11 Workman Publishing 2001


Mechanical harvesting

The question of using mechanical harvesting versus traditional hand picking is a source of contention in the wine industry. Mechanical harvesting of grapes has been one of the major changes in many
vineyard A vineyard ( ; also ) is a plantation A plantation is a large-scale estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops. The crops that are grown include cotton, coffee, tea, cocoa, su ...

vineyard
s in the last third of a century. First introduced commercially in the 1960s, it has been adopted in different wine regions for various economic, labor and winemaking reasons. In Australia, the reduced work force in the wine industry has made the use of mechanized labor almost a necessity. A mechanical grape harvester works by beating the
vine A vine (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...

vine
with rubber sticks to get the vine to drop its fruit onto a conveyor belt that brings the fruit to a holding bin. As technology improves mechanical harvesters have become more sophisticated in distinguishing grape clusters from mud, leaves and other particles. Despite the improvement many harvesters still have difficulties in distinguishing between ripe, healthy grapes and unripe or rotted bunches which must then be sorted out at the winemaking facility. Another disadvantage is the potential of damaging the grape skins which can cause maceration and coloring of the juice that is undesirable in the production of white and sparkling wine. The broken skins also bring the risk of
oxidation Redox (reduction–oxidation, pronunciation: or ) is a type of chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter ...

oxidation
and a loss of some of the aromatic qualities in the wine.T. Stevenson ''"The Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia"'' pg 22 Dorling Kindersley 2005 One of the benefits of mechanical harvesting is the relatively low cost. A harvester is able to run 24 hours a day and pick 80–200
ton The ton is a unit of measure A unit of measurement is a definite magnitude Magnitude may refer to: Mathematics *Euclidean vector, a quantity defined by both its magnitude and its direction *Magnitude (mathematics), the relative size ...
s of grapes, compared to the 1–2 tons that an experienced human picker could harvest. In hot climates, where picking quickly or in the cool of night is a priority, mechanical harvesting can accomplish these goals very well.K. MacNeil ''The Wine Bible'' pg 28 Workman Publishing 2001


Hand picking

Despite the costs, some wineries prefer the use of human workers to hand-pick grapes. The main advantage is the knowledge and discernment of the worker to pick only healthy bunches and the gentler handling of the grapes. The production of some
dessert wine Dessert wines, sometimes called pudding wines in the United Kingdom, are sweet wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from Fermentation in winemaking, fermented grapes. Yeast in winemaking, Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes ...
like Sauternes and
Trockenbeerenauslese ''Trockenbeerenauslese'' (literal meaning: 'dried berry selection') is a German language German ( Standard High German: , ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western E ...
require that individual berries are picked from the
botrytized ''Botrytis cinerea'' is a necrotrophic fungus that affects many plant species, although its most notable hosts may be wine grapes. In viticulture, it is commonly known as "botrytis bunch rot"; in horticulture, it is usually called "grey mould" or ...
bunches which can only be done by hand. In areas of steep terrain, like in the Mosel, it would be virtually impossible to run a mechanical harvester through the vineyard. In many wine regions,
migrant worker A migrant worker is a person who migrates within a home country or outside it to pursue work. Migrant workers usually do not have the intention to stay permanently in the country or region in which they work. Migrant workers who work outside ...

migrant worker
s are a sizable composition of the harvest time work force as well as local student and itinerant workers. Karen Ross, president of the California Association of Winegrowers, has estimated that as of 2007 as many as 70% of the employees in the
California wine California wine supplies a vast majority of the American wine Wine Wine is an alcoholic drink typically made from fermented grape juice. Yeast Yeasts are eukaryotic, single-celled microorganisms classified as members of the fungu ...
industry may be immigrants from Mexico.D. Sogg ''"Immigration Rules May Cause Higher Wine Prices"'' The Wine Spectator pg 16 October 31st, 2007.


References

{{portal bar, Drink Oenology Harvest Viticulture Wine