Harvest time is filled with excitement, anticipation, and anxiousness. It is the same at every vineyard and Youngberg Hill is no exception. We are taking in several pieces of information when deciding when to pick the grapes. Much is talked about the brix (% volume of sugar in the grapes) because it is an easy quantifiable number. However, there are many other more important factors to consider.
The first is fruit flavors. Every year is different in terms of when the flavors set into the fruit. Sometimes it may be ahead of brix and fruit ripening, other times it may not come until the very end of ripeness. The flavors are one of the most important components. Next is the actual ripeness of the fruit as viewed by the pulp, seeds, and stems. The pulp will get more liquid and the seeds and stems will turn brown as the fruit ripens. This change will result in more developed and mellower fruit tannins in the wine. Then, along with brix, we are looking at the acidity of the fruit. Acids are important because they aid in structure of the wine and crisp, bright characteristics. Too little acid can make a wine too soft or flat. Acidity also makes wine more food friendly. However, if there is too much acidity, the wine may seem harsh not as appealing on the palate.
It is a delicate dance indeed. We are dancing to get balance as the sugar content is going up, the acidity is going down, and the fruit is ripening. We are working toward that perfect balance that will carry the fruit into the winery to produce the best wine possible. All the while, we are looking over our shoulder to see what weather is coming. We are hoping for dry, sunny days and moderate temperature. Too hot and the fruit may over ripen or raisin. Too cool and the fruit may not ripen completely. We hope to get every day of sunshine on the grapes before the rains start to come. Yes, this dance is done every year at every vineyard and every one of us dances to a slightly different tune. Youngberg Hill’s tune after 22 years is easy to hear and even easier to dance to year after year.
If you have never seen a harvest or been to a winery during crush then we welcome you to join us. If you have been involved with harvest then you automatically become part of the harvest story.
What is your most memorable/funniest harvest story?