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wine harvest

Profiles

Celebrating the wine harvest

Wine harvesting time: when vines give up their bounty, and the work of winemaking begins. Throughout the year, wine growers carefully care for and monitor their grapes, and now the time has come for fruit to become the celebrated elixir that is wine.

Published on September 6, 2021

How does this transformation happen?
Let us acquaint you with this important time of the winemaking year.

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Wine harvesting season

Grape picking varies according to region, temperature, grape variety, and desired end-product. In Quebec, ice wine grapes are picked right after Christmas when grapes are frosty. Late harvest wines feature grapes that are riper and therefore sweeter, making for delicious dessert wines.

Two ways to gather grapes

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Mechanical harvesting

This method’s advantage is its speed, although it’s less selective than hand-picking even if most machines have settings that ensure only grapes of the desired ripeness are plucked.

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Hand picking

Wine harvesting in this way ensures grape quality, but its production costs are far more elevated. This method is used when high-quality wines are the desired end-product, as well as when grape vines are inaccessible to machines.

Harvesting Principles

  • Grapes are fragile and must be handled with the utmost care.
  • While harvesting, small containers should be used so grapes don’t crush one another, nor are left to stagnate in their juices.
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  • Once picked, grapes must be transported to tanks as soon as possible, thereby maximizing overall wine quality and yield because of improved maceration and oxidation control.
  • Harvesting often occurs at night so as to take advantage of cooler temperatures: grapes exposed to too much sun will begin to ferment.

Did you know?

  • White wine grapes ripen faster than those used for red wine.
  • The “ban des vendanges” (administratively determined harvesting dates) sanctions when the harvest begins. Dates are set by appellation defense and management organizations, along with the INAO. Set harvesting dates are used and abided by throughout Europe.
  • In Quebec, wineries themselves decide when to harvest, and this generally occurs mid-September.
  • Want to experience grape harvesting first-hand for a day? Contact your local or favourite winery and get more information about this unique event.

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