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.

Benefits of Being a Farm Bureau Member

California Farm BureauFarm Bureau membership sure does have its perks. The Sonoma County Farm Bureau offers 4 different membership types, and the benefits include savings on insurance, wine, farm supplies, and more. Members can also feel good about supporting local agricultural education programs, helping to inform and protect family farms, and assisting with advocacy efforts and programs that ensure the well-being of our environment.

Types of Membership

“Agricultural Membership”

Agricultural Membership is offered to rural property owners; farmers and their family members; service sector businesses and their employees; and farm, processing, or winery employees who work with farmers—basically anyone connected to production agriculture. The cost is $185 per year.

“Associate Membership”

Associate Membership applies to anyone without direct correlation to agriculture, such as those who do not receive any income from an agriculturally related job or business. Anyone who wants to support California agriculture while simultaneously gaining access to the many benefits offered through membership, but are not in any way connected professionally to agriculture, should consider this option. The cost is $72 per year.

Here are just a few of the perks of an Associate Membership:

  • New member acknowledgement in Farm News
  • Receive CFBF’s California Country and Ag Alert, 3 issues of the Sonoma-Marin Farm News, 6 issues of CFBF’s California Country magazine, and the SCFB Annual Directory
  • Affiliate member ranch sign

“Business Membership (Silver Level)“

Farm Bureau membership can help your business grow by providing a means to meet and work with farmers.  The cost for this basic Business Membership is $195 per year.

Your business will enjoy:

  • Entry into the Business Referral Network
  • Free business card advertisement in Sonoma-Marin Farm News (reaching 10,000 + customers)
  • Advertising discounts of up to 15 percent in the Sonoma-Marin Farm News
  • Farm Bureau Business Member Plaque
  • 12 free issues of the Sonoma-Marin Farm News

“Business Membership (Platinum Level)“

At $495 per year, the Platinum Level option for businesses includes all of the previously mentioned perks as well as a free annual 1/4 page ad in Sonoma-Marin Farm News and the option of including one additional individual to your membership.

Wine Discounts

From Acorn Winery to Wilson Winery, there are currently over 50 wineries in the Sonoma County area providing Farm Bureau members with exclusive discounts. These “Member Only” savings change from winery to winery, so visit the Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Wine Discount website here:

You can also download a PDF file with a list of participating wineries here:

If you’re a winery wanting to join the program, click here to download the Winery Discount form:

Insurance Discounts

From home and auto to health and pet insurance discounts, a Farm Bureau membership can save you big money on insurance premiums.

A list of participating agencies can be found here:

Business Member Directory

The Business Member Directory is great for any member looking for discounts on new equipment, rental equipment, and/or certain agricultural services.

To learn more about the specific discounts offered by the dozens of participating businesses, visit the Sonoma County Farm Bureau’s Business Member Directory website here: