When’s Harvest?

I took samples of the grapes this morning in order to attempt to project when the grapes will be ready to harvest.  I wish that I could harvest them now, as the birds and raccoons keep trying to take some, but it appears that we’ve got some weeks to go.  My method is to pick random grapes within a variety, mash them up in a baggie, then taste the juice and measure the sugar.  The sugar is measured in degrees Brix and the goal is to get a number 24.0-26.0. 

(If you’re reading this on the blog, you can click on the pictures to see close-ups.  If you’re reading this on facebook, that feature probably will not work)

The cabernet sauvignon has the furthest to go, as you might notice in the picture, there are bright green seeds.  The cab also tastes the most green.  The flavor reminds me of the green apple jolly rancher candies I sucked on as a kid.  Very tart!  The Brix was 20.0 degrees, but these grapes need to loose the tartness.  I think it might be 4 weeks before these cabernet grapes get soft and gentle flavors.  No one wants a cabernet sauvignon that tastes sour!

The sangiovese are going to have to hang a while longer as well.  Though they are a favorite of the local raccoons, their Brix is only 18.2.  Their seeds are mixed, brown and beige with a little green.  In the picture you might notice that all the skins are not very dark yet.  The taste was like an apple.  Starting to smooth out, but if the brix does not get higher, it will be tough to make much alcohol (2 degrees Brix typically produces 1% sugar).  I think these grapes are probably once again destined to be a blush.

The chardonnay is closest to harvest with brown to dark brown seeds.  The skins are starting to get a golden, almost transluscent look.  The grapes had a very tropical flavor, specifically pineapple & mango.   Chardonnay grown in a hot climate typically picks up a tropical flavor.  Think Yellow Tail from Australia, not chardonnay from France.  I think we might harvest these grapes on Saturday, August 8th.  The brix is only 19.5, but the number is similar to last year and it shot up in August quickly last year.  I had the irrigation water on yesterday, and if I don’t give the vines any water for the week before harvest, then I’ll be able to get the brix up.

Then there’s my merlot.  I suspect this is the best grape for me to grow.  The brix was 21.4 and I’ve got plenty of green in the seeds so I’ve got a few weeks to get that number up.  Hopefully it will not be too hot, and more importantly, I hope the raccoons don’t discover this sweet treat!

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