It is the day we pick! How do we know what day is best? You want your grapes to be rich in color. A ripe grape will crush easily, but not be shriveled. A ripe grape is plump, and thickly juicy and tastes somewhat sweet and tart. The crushed grape should smell and taste ripe! The seeds should be brown and mature.
If we think from the tests above that our grapes are ripe; we measure sugar content, pH, and acidity level. Grapes are mostly water and sugar that ferment to make wine. Brix is a term used to measure the sugar content of grapes and the Brix level helps us estimate the future alcohol level of our wine.
We use a refractometer in the fields and a hydrometer in the winery to measure Brix, (sugar level). When we think we are getting close to the desired Brix, we take a hundred berry sample and check it in the lab.
After checking sugar, we check the PH in the lab. You may remember pH from high school science class. It's a measure of free hydrogen ions. As our grapes ripen and the sugar rises, the pH will usually rise, too.
Grape juice is full of natural acids, which lend important qualities to wine. Next, we measure acid levels. As the Brix goes up, the acid levels go down. If they go too low, then the wine may be flabby.
Finally, the grapes are ready, the day is cool and sunny, and hopefully, you are here. Let's go pick!
We expect to pick for about 3 to 4 weeks in September and into October.