It’s time! After 9 months of caring and nurturing, watching and waiting, the big event is upon us- harvesting the fruits of our labor. Many things need to happen before our big event to ensure a smooth “delivery”. The lights and generators needed for night picking are set up, the tractor is topped up and ready to go, and the picking bins and lugs are cleaned out and sterilized. And then, there are the birds. The birds arrive about the same time as harvest as they are looking for the same thing we are in the grapes-sugar accumulation. Left unchecked, huge flocks come to eat the seeds of the grapes which affects the quality and quantity of the grape harvest. Thus, a final preparation involves implementing anti-bird devices: bird alarms, flashing (the shiny strips you see tied to the vineyard posts) and even driving around on a quad, beating on a bucket with a stick (remarkably effective).
In the weeks leading up to harvest, the grapes are evaluated quantitatively (sugar accumulation and pH) and qualitatively (flavor development). To measure sugar content we take a random 200 berry sample from a block and mash it up into what is referred to as must, and use a refractometer to measure the Brix which is the weight of the must sugars in grams per 100 grams of must. We also test the acidity of the berries. This process is repeated until the berries hit 23 Brix and the analysis shifts to the qualitative factors. Externally, we look at the integrity of the grapes and the condition of the canopy- once these start to deteriorate, the grapes must be harvested quickly, though ideally, the grapes have been harvested before this occurs. Primarily, we are looking for “phenolic development” which is essentially everything you see, smell, and taste in a wine. Each varietal has its own flavor profile and it takes time and experience to tell when each varietal is ready- part of the winemakers job. Once the winemaker sees a nice balance and varietal expression, we prepare to harvest and night harvesting occurs within 24-48 hours of making that decision.
For Naggiar, that time is upon us- we are looking at harvesting our first grapes the beginning of next week. We hope you can join us in celebrating harvest with our annual Harvest Festival- Sunday, September 15- always a great time. More info can be found on our website www.naggiarvineyards.com