The phases that characterize one of the most particular moments of agriculture: the grape harvest.
Grape harvest has always been one of the most fascinating rituals of agriculture. After months during which the vine is cared and pampered by human hands, in order to give healthy and good fruits, the phases of harvesting begin: a very important moment for the production of wine.
Phases of harvesting: the ideal period
There are three moments dedicated to harvesting: August-September, September-October and finally October-November for late ripening grapes. The ideal moment of the year to harvest grapes is given by the perfect level of ripeness of the berry, that is when the content of sugars, acidity, pH and phenols (for dark berried grapes) is in balance among them.
Harvesting is divided into three phases: harvesting, crushing, fermentation and the last phases which distinguish wine making.
The first phase of harvesting consists in picking up bunches of grapes. This step can be done manually or by using a grape harvesting machine which shakes the vine in order to make the bunches fall faster.
As opposed to the use of the machine, the manual harvesting of the bunches is surely preferred in order to obtain a quality wine. In fact the farmer carefully chooses the bunches among those which do not have mold or defects and cuts them with special scissors, depriving them of the leaves.
The best bunches are placed in baskets and then emptied into larger crates in order to move on to the next harvesting phase.
The moment of crushing is certainly one of the happiest phases because, if done manually, it brings together adults and children and the whole community to participate in the life of the country. In the vats the grapes are crushed in order to obtain the must and pass to the next phase of fermentation.
Even in this phase machines can help: with special crusher-stemmers it is possible to crush grapes and discard stems at the same time. The latter, if pressed together with grapes, would leave tannic substances with a woody and acrid taste.
The last phase of harvesting is fermentation, characterized by many phases which determine the quality of the final product. Depending on the type of wine one wants to obtain, one works during fermentation differently:
for a red wine the grape must must remain in contact with the skins;
white wine is obtained by separating the must from skins and seeds;
after a short period of maceration (24-36 hours) rose wines are obtained.
Finally, there is the phase of refermentation and aging which will give origin to the most different wines, from sparkling wines to meditation wines. Before being put on the market it is necessary to wait from one to three months.