Archive for the ‘2014 harvest’ Category

What is the Best Harvesting Method?

September 16th, 2014 by Rachel

Sept Blog 3 - Pic 1When it comes to our land, we always go for the most organic, sustainable and holistic  method here at Youngberg Hill.  This is because we believe the method that works for Mother Nature is the method that will work best for our wine.  Our wine philosophy extends to using the best harvesting method for our grapes.

 

That said, there are two basic ways to harvest grapes.  One is by hand and one is by machine.  Of course, a winery may choose to include some machines into processes before or after the harvest – like a destemmer or a tractor.  But the harvest itself can be done either by hand or by machine.  We will consider these two methods:

Mechanical Harvesting

One of the greatest advantages of mechanical harvesting – and why many large winemakers choose this type of harvesting – is speed.  Just as is the case in making manufacturing pretty much anything, when you add machines, things go faster.  This means a large, corporate winemaker might be tempted by mechanical harvesting to save money.

Another reason why speed is important to these large grape growers is  they don’t want their grapes to become overripe.  This can create bad wine that needs a lot of extra additives to make it palatable.

Hand Harvesting  

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Harvesting grapes by hand has a major advantage over mechanical harvesting.  That is: quality of fruit.

Hand harvested grapes are more precisely what we want in our wine.  This is because the person harvesting the grapes can consider what  they are harvesting as they go.  There is another process later, during winemaking, during which people are able to go through the harvest again and pick out any unwanted grapes, stems, leaves, etc.  But the hand harvest is the first line of defense against bad bunches.

This extra sorting power may not seem like it makes a big difference in the quality of wine produced, but it actually does.  Not only are there more eyes on the grapes that do go in  to your wine, many substandard grapes (unripe grapes or raisins) can be removed before they get to the crusher.  When you consider that it takes about 30  vines of grapes to make one barrel of wine – you see where the difference comes in.   Say there were 5 raisins and 10 unripe grapes, plus one leaf per cluster.  That’s about 200 raisins and 400 unripe grapes – plus 40 leaves that hand harvesting removed from that barrel of wine.

Another reason behind our hand harvesting preference is that Pinot Noir is a delicate fruit.  The process of machine harvesting punctures the fruit slightly, so in order to maintain a full cluster of intact grapes, we have to hand harvest.

Hand harvesting is one of the many ways we stay true to our grapes and the land which produced them.  Come taste the difference!

 

All About the Crush

August 19th, 2014 by Rachel

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The harvest season is often referred to as “The Crush,” taking its name from a very important step in the winemaking process. Though foot-stomping instantly comes to mind, there is a lot more to the crush than that.

Harvesting begins once the grapes reach peak ripeness. Knowing when to harvest is not an exact science, but it usually occurs with summer turns to fall. Each grape cluster is then carefully sorted to ensure only the best fruit goes into the wine.

 

 

That’s when the crushing begins. The purpose of this stage is to break open the skins, exposing the juice and pulp. The grapes’ seeds and stems aren’t crushed because they contain the very important tannins. Not only do tannins contribute to the texture of the wine, but they are invaluable to the color and bitterness of it as well. The sooner the stems are removed in the crushing process, the less tannic a wine will be. Sometimes the stems aren’t removed until right before fermentation and pressing, which is why red wines tend to be more bitter than their white counterparts.

The crush is a very symbolic portion of the harvest season, and of winemaking in general. In fact, there are many festivals celebrating it, including the local Carlton Crush next month. These festivals are family-friendly and delight in one of our area’s greatest traditions. And, of course, there’s a lot of foot-stomping!