A Full Bin - Harvesting

It's a busy time in the vineyard, with harvesting underway. The fruit is in tight bunches, bursting with flavour and ready to be picked. As winemakers, we know when to pick the grapes based on their baume (sugar) level. By checking the baume daily and watching the weather reports, we decide when to harvest. After the grapes are picked, there is plenty to do in a short time frame. Today I'm sharing the process of harvesting the Shiraz grapes. Our Sauvignon Blanc has already been picked, pressed and is sitting in tanks, fermenting. Next week we will pick our Ruby Cabernet. SONY DSCThis is the destemmer, which is connected to the back of the tractor. The destemmer and the harvester are driven up and down the vines in adjoining rows. SONY DSCAbove you can see the harvester. The harvester shakes the bunches of grapes off the vines. The bunches then go into buckets on the harvester, travel up the conveyor and get dropped into the destemmer. The role of the destemmer is to remove the majority of the leaf and bunch stem (rachis) from the berries. SONY DSC These are the freshly harvested Shiraz grapes. Any excess leaf matter is easily removed. SONY DSC This is the same bin after 24 hours. The change of colour and "bubbles" are a result of natural yeast from the fruit starting to ferment the sugars into alcohol. Cultured yeast is then added to finish off the ferment. If you were to drink the the juice at this stage, it would be bubbly and sweet and contain only a little alcohol. SONY DSC As the ferment continues, the skins from the berries rise to the top of the liquid. The skins are called the cap. The cap must be kept wet to aid the extraction of tannin and colour from the berry skins. Here the ferment is being pumped over to keep the cap wet. SONY DSCIn this pump over, the juice is "fanned" out to help cool the ferment and bring down the temperature. This process will continue for the next few days until fermentation is finished (usually between 7 to 10 days), at which stage it will be pressed and the juice will be put into tanks or barrels. Cheers, Rohan

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