Preparing for harvest with the help of some tea bags
As the summer draws to a close, at Poulton Hill Estate we are preparing for another harvest.
Checking the grapes’ sugar level is something that we start to do around this time. It is not always straightforward to determine when to harvest, as some varietals of grapes ripen earlier than others.
Traditionally, winemakers would have a few signs from nature that the grapes were beginning to ripen, starting with veraison. The grape bunches become plumper and the grapes richer in colour, the stems brown and the seeds inside would be brown and chewy. The grapes take the energy out of the leaves and the leaves start to turn red and orange, but still with nice green veins. The vineyard might begin to see an increase in the number of birds or insects visiting, looking for a tasty treat.
We also use a method to test the level of sugar in the fruit. Here is our step-by-step guide to checking the grapes.
- Transportation to whizz up and down the rows. Golf buggy ready and fully charged.
- Collect 25 random samples of each varietal (eyes closed so as not the pick the biggest).
- Refractometer calibrated and set to Oechsle (a scale measuring the density of our grape must, which indicates the grape ripeness and sugar content)
- Tear the tops off the VERY LAST of our Yorkshire Tea bags to use as a filter!
- Crush up the grapes within their bags.
- Pour must into open tea bags and allow to filter through, covering the whole of the prism on the refractometer.
- Cover the sample with a hand so as not to allow light in, which can affect the reading. Note down reading, repeat three times for each variety, calculate the average.
- Repeat process for each varietal.
- Pop out for more much-needed tea bags!
When we get the right sugar and acidity levels, it is all systems go for harvest.
If you would like to learn more about harvest, why not find out about our harvest experience?
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