Here at Wollersheim, grape harvest can fall anytime between mid August and late September, depending on weather conditions and ripening. This year’s harvest began the first week of September and finished up just after Labor Day.
On our steepest slopes where we grow Marechal Foch for our Domaine Reserve and Domaine du Sac wines, the grapes are still picked by hand, our vineyard crew carefully cutting away the grape clusters, row by row, vine by vine. Click through the Flickr slideshow below:
When it was time to harvest the white grapes that will become our brandy and our Eagle White wine, our mechanical harvester was called into action. It was the second year we were able to use the harvester, which passes over the top of each row and gently shakes the vines to release the grapes.
By using the harvester, we have the most flexibility in timing for picking each parcel when the conditions are optimal for a particular wine. Click through the Flickr slideshow below:
Except for a field of St. Pepins that will stay on the vine for a while longer to become next year’s Ice Wine, all of our white grapes were harvested, crushed and destemmed, pressed, and pumped into tanks for fermentation. The harvester then circled back for the remaining reds.
Like the white grapes, the reds were put into bins, sorted, and sent through the crusher and destemmer where they were gently squeezed and pulled from the stems.
Unlike white grapes, the reds go into fermentation tanks for about 10 days after crushing and destemming before they are pressed. Fermentation with the pulp and skin allows for more extraction of color and tannins from the grape.
From grapes to juice and soon-to-be wine…cheers to harvest, our busiest time of the year!