Vineyard Harvest For Newbies

Sonoma County Harvest 2014When we talk about how one can know whether their vineyard grapes are ready for harvest, we usually end up with one answer- there is no one sure indicator that would tell you when to pick the grapes. You could have a training yard for your small vineyard or acres of land flourishing with vineyard grapes. Following are the top tips when it comes to knowing the right time to harvest.

Do You Know The Sweetness Level?

Picking Vineyard grapes differs slightly then the way you would want your table grapes to be like. Vineyard grapes are always better than your regular grapes. This is because of the sucrose present in the grapes that you measure through the value of Brix. There are many methods and tools that can help you measure Brix. It is the sweetness level of grapes that determines the alcohol level.

Hydrometer is the most tradition and popular tool that helps you measure Brix. Part of managing an entire vineyard is that you also take care of the record of Brix each week or each mounts up to. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep up the practice of checking the sweetness level at these intervals. Also remember that the Brix won’t keep on getting better as time goes by, in unfortunate circumstances rain leads to the grapes swelling and basically being ruined due to the misbalancing of sweetness and acidity that is caused.

Ripe Grapes

However only the sweetness level and ultimately the Brix do not determine whether the grape is ready to be picked or not. The Grape needs to be physically ripe too. We are talking seeds, skin and stems. A ripe vineyard grape is one where the color changes from your ordinary grape green to yellowish and the seeds will taste relatively less bitter. This aspect of ripeness is what makes the resulting wine tannin taste sweeter. Tannin is supposed to affect a wine’s aftertaste or what is commonly referred to as the wine’s finish.

Try Your Hand At It

If this is your first time tending to a vineyard and you want to avoid any beginner’s blunders that you are afraid of then you might want to get a taste of the experience. You can always visit a vineyard harvest. There are tons of wineries that are understaffed during the time of their vineyard harvest. Hand harvesting is one of the many things that you will experience doing if you volunteer and as a bonus you can also see or ask questions on all that you are concerned about.

In order to make sure that you are managing the vineyard right you need to be able to equip your land with the right vineyard supplies and equipment. One of the quality places you can look up and buy the best ranch and vineyard supplies at Cameron & Cameron Inc.

Top Safety Tips For The Vineyard Harvest

Harvest 2014 Cutting GrapesPicking grapes may seem as easy as 123, unfortunately there are some essential picker protocols that should be followed in order to ensure a safe, not to mention fun working environment. As a vineyard manger you should first announce these rules to the entire picking team.

  • The first safety rule is about the way you use cutting utensils. If you are picking when it is dark out then do not clip any where you feel something but you cannot see what you are cutting. Because most probably it will be your finger. No matter how sure you are if you love your fingers it is not worth risking.
  • If any of the pickers need a band aid tell them to let you know immediately.
  • As a vineyard manager it is your job to make sure that the pickers are doing their job right. This can be ensured for instance if you show them the right condition of the fruit that should be picked. You don’t want any green berries picked. Your pickers will probably be people who are first timers at this and volunteered for some vineyard education. Tel them the difference between what they should avoid picking and the ones that are ready to be harvested.
  • There are instances when pickers start to overload their buckets with fruit. Before you start working tell all your pickers where to carry the bucket and leave the fruit once it is loaded. This will make both your and the volunteers life much easier.
  • Notice how you tend to pick from the way others do it. If the berries drop from the clusters than you are yanking too hard. In fact do not yank at all.
  • A handy tip is if you push and pull on the canes to get a better angle at cutting out the fruit in bunches.
  • When picking clusters remember that you should throw the bad parts off from the clusters then and there and bucket the good ones.
  • Never place your snips or anything else that is not supposed to make wine in the bucket, even if you think you are doing it for just a moment do not do it because everything in the bucket goes in to an expensive piece of machinery and a distracted picker may forget to retrieve these things from eth basket.
  • Watch out for bees at the back of clusters as they usually are present there if you harvest in the early morning.
  • In the similar way make sure you tell your pickers that it is not appropriate to push down on the clusters that they have harvested in the basket/ bucket to make more room. The process is meant for the crusher machine which only accepts what fruit you present to it in fine condition.
  • Part of having a successful harvest is that you have the right equipment at hand. Start by looking at Cameron & Cameron for the best and reliable Vineyard supplies.

Things To Do Before The Day Of The Harvest

Sonoma Wine Harvest 2014For someone with a home vineyard the most important and what is also probably the most hectic and stressful task, is harvesting time.

Harvest comes once every year and making the necessary preparations is the key to a successful harvest day. You can shop for vineyard supplies at Cameron &Cameron Inc. for the most reliable products.

Not At The Last Minute

Your prep starts 7 days before the harvest time. Your job is to get the weather report, get a week’s forecast. You are looking for whether the day you picked for harvest is under threat by Mother Nature. If it is you will have to make small changes to your harvest plans.  Getting the fruit out of the field before the weather conditions present a torrent of rain over the field is one additional thing that you may have to do.

Tend To Your Vineyard

There is no point picking in a vineyard that is suffocated by weeds and the equipment that you allow lying around just because it is more convenient for you. Remember the basic rule of anything, the cleaner the place the easier the task. Apart from de cluttering the rows you need to make sure that you fill holes in the ground so that your busy pickers do not trip and hurt themselves.

You Need Pickers, Start With Volunteers

Anyone can volunteer as pickers. Remember when you are deciding on the date of the harvest don’t pick one according to when you are free but a date that suits the fruit that will be harvested. Let all your friends know that you are looking for volunteer pickers. Put out an email, professional pickers do the standard ton a day but volunteers can usually do up to a quarter of that. Offer a brunch or something after an hour of picking. The idea is to make the whole practice look as fun as possible.

You can also attract pickers by offering them a morning of wine education and vineyard fun.

Check Again

You need to confirm the details one last time. The 24 hours before you time of harvest make sure that your fruit is in perfect condition. You can do this by making sure one last time that the fruit has the accurate level of ripeness.

This also helps you decide whether you will have to pick the grapes earlier than the time you decided if you see the acid plummeting in the fruit. If you are practicing home wine making than a refractometer should be good enough to give you an exact measure of for making a Brix based decision.