Knowing when to harvest your grapes

It’s a gorgeous September day in Minnesota. We’re at the Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesota and it’s time to collect the grapes. How do you understand when it’s time to pick? I’ll show you how to inform when the grapes are ripe and I’ll show you some measurements to be sure, since it is very important. Much better grapes imply much better wine. The most crucial day of the year is the day you select. It sets in movement the yearly harvest and it also determines the kind of wine you’ll make.
As a grape grower and a wine maker you need to keep a note pad. You’ll be glad to have records in the months and years to come. Let’s begin with sight, taste, touch, and smell. You want your grapes to be abundant in color, not green. A ripe grape will squash easily, but not be shriveled. A ripe grape is plump, and heavily juicy. It’s a balance between tart and sweet. Each variety establishes special flavors that we call varietal flavor. A fully ripe grape establishes its varietal taste more totally. Does the skin have varietal taste? Is it herbaceous, or is it vegetal, like a green pepper? Is the aftertaste pleasant or is it bitter? Chemical or vinegar tastes or smells are defects so take good notes if you have that problem.
One more time, taste the grape and imagine exactly what the wine will be. We’ll move on to some lab work. It readies to use your senses however it’s also important to determine. You have to measure sugar content, pH, and acidity level. Grapes are mostly water and sugar which will ferment to make wine. Brix is a term that the developing industry uses to measure the sugar material of grapes. Brix level assists estimate the alcohol level of your wine. Like temperature, Brix is measured in degrees. Brix is determined with a refractometer, which you can purchase a winemaking supply shop or online.
Drop some juice on the test plate, close the cover strongly and check out the viewfinder. You’ll see a line where your juice registers on an internal scale. In this case, the juice signs up 24 degrees Brix. A rather less practical, however less expensive technique is to purchase a basic glass hydrometer which has a built-in scale. Merely put your juice into the cylinder, drift your hydrometer and read the Brix level straight off the built-in scale. The more sugar in your wine, the greater your hydrometer will float. As your grapes develop, they keep more sugar so the Brix level rises. Different wine styles require different Brix levels. In general, for white wine, 22 Brix readies. We’ll keep an eye on our grapes, checking them periodically, when we reach our Brix objective, then it’s time to choose. We now know about sugar and the best ways to measure it. Next let’s rapidly move to pH and the pH meter. You may keep in mind pH from high school science class.
It’s a step of totally free hydrogen ions. As our grapes ripen and the sugar increases, the pH will rise too. You can purchase an inexpensive, portable pH meter. Make sure you purchase pH reference solutions so you can adjust your meter. Grape juice has lots of natural acids, which lend essential qualities to wine. Every time we determine Brix we need to also measure acid levels. In a manner they’re opposites; as the Brix increases, the acid levels decrease. You can purchase a simple acid test kit. It takes a little practice and a little care and you’ll wish to make good records, however do not fret, you can do it! Enough with measuring and tasting, let’s go select! Are you all set to select? Let’s begin by selecting a great sample.

Yes, you can pick one grape, put it in your refractometer and take a sugar sample, but it will not be really representative of all your grapes. Instead, select individual grapes from many clusters. Test from both sides of the vine, low and high, in shaded areas and sunny areas, and select from various parts of each cluster. A perfect sample may be 50 grapes. If you just have a couple of vines, it’ll be fine to take a smaller sized sample. Make a note about how they felt, how they smelled, and how they tasted. Squeeze your juice into a cup. Utilize the juice to make your measurements, and after that document your outcomes. Take pleasure in picking your grapes, then determine a sample for sugar, acidity and pH and record it. Then, sort through your grapes. Pick out any green, musty or shriveled berries and you’re ready to start making wine.

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