With 80,000 m2 of nets hauled over the vines in February, working with our purpose-built mustard yellow machine, we kept the majority of fauna away from the sitting fruit feast.
Summer's intensity is thinning and the deciduous leaves begin senescence, indicating we're close to harvest.
Picking has to be a near-perfectly timed moment. It's based on scientific calculation which is measured by information lying inside the grapes. To know more, we need to open them up.
As you see from the photo above, grapes ripen at varying rates. As do bunches across the vineyard. Taking goodly samples from around the site, we ensure our selection is representative of the vineyard's physiology.
This isn't a matter of plucking at arm's height from the first vine. We observe fruit in our vines' Bunch Zones. The best grapes for drinking sit contiguous with the trunk's crown or along its cane.
Walking kilometres under the nets, our team samples bunches in different pockets of the property. We compare patches which receive morning sun with those who bask in evening glow. Grapes from the same vine, but sitting in different rows.
This is done across each varietal and take it very seriously. Many a harvest has been distorted by inaccurate bunch sampling.
We only have a window of about 2-3 days to get our picking date right.
A refractometer helps us measure the sugar levels in our grapes' juice. We place several drops of the liquid on its angled prism; pointing it at the sun we take a reading from the refractions made by the soluble sugars in the liquid.
Sugars indicate ripeness and ultimately determine the alcohol content of the bottled wine. If the sugars rise too far the grapes will create too much alcohol and your drinking experience will be thrown off balance. We can't let that happen, and must pick beforehand.
Acid and pH levels in our grapes are also tested, indicating the wine's capacity for aging. In the glass, pH determines 'slipperyness' and the acid gives 'freshness'.
We let nothing go to waste. Taking the whole berries, we crunch them in our mouths to get an indication for the tannins from the seeds. Are they green, or turning brown? We look for freshness to balance the ripeness.
As of today, we estimate being two weeks away from picking. Some of our neighbours have already started.
We'll let you know how it goes.
Paul and the Staindl Wines team