From the moment the grapes ripen, the vigneron can harvest the grapes. The decision to harvest is based on the concentration of sugar (Brix), acid (TA) and pH. The harvesting can be done using two methods: manual harvesting or mechanical harvesting. A mechanical vine harvester involves a financial investment, yet it does have its share of advantages: it has a high-capacity level, vineyard flexibility and of course, the fact that a night harvest is possible. The harvester works by shaking the vine and collecting the grape berries that fall down, leaving the stems behind as it works. The mechanical harvester has quite a few disadvantages as well. For example, it harvests unselectively, and is only capable of operating on dry and level surfaces. In addition, the transfer of grapes to the winery must be done quickly and in a cool environment in order to prevent them from starting to ferment. In comparison, a manual harvest, despite it being slow and requiring coordination and the ability to work with a team of harvesters, has a number of important advantages. These include the ability to harvest on virtually any terrain, as well as the ability to choose the best grapes for winemaking and leave those that haven’t fully ripened, or are rotten, on the vine, a simple process that prevents a negative impact to the overall quality of the wine.
In our winery, the harvest is done manually by a team of skilled workers who meticulously pick the clusters from the grapevine. From the moment the harvest is over (around 6:00) the clusters are directly transferred to a cooling room to decrease the grapes’ temperature. When grapes reach the right temperature, they are sorted on a conveyor belt for another round of inspection, in order to get rid of unsuitable clusters, leaves and branches, before they are separated and crushed.
Crushing and Destemming (Crusher Machine)
Destemming is a process where the grape berries are separated from the cluster’s stem in order to decrease the development of tannins and green flavors in the wine. The crushing is a process where the grape berries are slightly crushed and the skin is broken so that the berries’ juice is liberated. Immediately after the contents are released, sulfur dioxide is added to prevent spontaneous fermentation processes and bacterial contamination.
In our winery, we use a machine to carry-out both crushing and destemming processes on our relatively large volume of grapes, which thus saves time. The juice is transferred by a special peristaltic pump, made by “Ragazzini”, to the fermentation tanks. This pump transfers the juice very delicately and does not damage the grape berries.