Harvest: Timing

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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A critical aspect of harvest is its timing, choosing a point during the grape ripening process when the balance between its natural accumulation of sugars and its decreasing tally of natural plant acids is optimal (see sampling, grapes).

Typically this is a frenzied period, especially in hotter climates where warm, dry weather can rapidly accelerate ripening, causing different varieties to ripen at the same time, and sometimes putting pressure on available fermentation vessel space. In cooler climates, the threat of humid weather and possible rot, heavy rainfall making vineyard access difficult, hail damage, or even frost can also put unwelcome pressure on picking schedules. acidification and enrichment are respectively the most common rescue operations in the case of grapes picked slightly after or before ideal maturity. micro-oxygenation may also help reduce the herbaceousness resulting from slightly unripe fruit.