So far, we have harvested a total a 166 tons with 26 tons left to go. The harvested grapes include Roussanne, which is a French white grape, Montepulciano, Algianico, (both are Italian red grape varieties) and Petite Verdot. I don’t think we have ever been so early harvesting the majority of the grapes!
Last year, we did not have our final Montepulciano harvest until Oct. 24, 2014! So, to be almost finished by Oct. 8th is really early – which is great because it means that money is (or will be) in the bank so we can pay bills and eat for another year!
Why have we harvested so early this year? Well, the weather forecast called for rain and lots of it. Once the grapevines absorb the rainwater, the brix (the measurement of the percentage of sugar in the grapes) will be slightly diluted which means not only a small dilution of the sugar content but also a dilution of the flavors. This would not be a problem if we were still having hot sunny days because the sugar would build again given time. But, we are not – our temps have been in the 70’s and 80’s.
With rain and humidity also comes the perfect conditions for mildew and rot to begin. There are chemicals we could spray but not right before harvesting. All of the chemicals have a specified amount of time which must pass after spraying before the grapes can be harvested called the harvest interval. Hot sunny days are the best and most natural way to kill both mildew and rot but it seems that they are gone for this year.
Each year the growing conditions are so different – I guess that adds to the excitement of having a vineyard and farming! In September of last year (2014) our mantra was rain, rain, go away – we just wanted the rain to go away so the grapes could ripen. This year, we want the rain to stop long enough to get the ripe grapes harvested. Gotta love the drama!
I have to remind myself that one reason for making the lifestyle change from the corporate world to vineyard life was that we would be constantly reminded of our dependence upon the Lord. Boy, have we found that to be true! As I sit here typing and listening to the rain, I am reminded of how God has met our needs in the past and how truly blessed we are. Our grapes overflow!
We are thankful to have the majority of the crop out of the vineyard already. The last three harvests are scheduled for Saturday, Monday and later next week. It will be a relief to have the remaining 26 tons harvested.