Here in Kansas harvest usually begins around the middle of August each year, but when does it officially end? Is it when the last grapes are picked at the end of September? Hardly.
While white wine grapes are pressed immediately upon harvest from their skins, red wine grapes are fermented on the skins, and punched down a minimum of three times daily in order to extract the color and tannin that reside in the skin and seeds. For how long? In our case it is a minimum of 30 days which also helps to soften how the tannin will feel in a year or two from now. If you haven’t figured it out yet, everything we plan for is always years down the road, either in the vineyard or the winery.
So when does harvest end? We consider it done when the red wines are finally resting in oak barrels, not to be heard from for nearly years. We filled our last barrel of the 2017 season on Wednesday 11/22, the day before Thanksgiving. After a tough winter, which brought a lot of work and challenges to this growing season, we still had an amazing harvest.
It is over for now… Except that those 2016 barrels are calling, given 2018 is on the horizon… It know becomes the season of pumps and hoses in the winery as well as time to disgorge the sparkling.
(P.S. What happens to all those grapes skins? We compost all of them. Look more info about them as we add more about our sustainability initiatives. Want to see a 65 ton grape skin compost pile? Just ask Bob, although he might get you to lend a hand turning it.)