11 FUN FACTS ABOUT HARVEST
- Most grapes are harvested at night! Harvesting at night saves money (no need to cool grapes before crushing), is easier on the workers and ensures a stable sugar level in the grapes, something that fluctuates when the temperature rises.
- The flavors of wine are affected by how long the grapes are on the vine. Earlier harvested grapes have lower sugar levels and higher acidity for a crisp, tart wine (typically white wines!). Red grapes require a more balanced sugar and acidity level for complexity. And dessert wines are left on the vines the longest!
- It’s not the grapes that determine the color, it’s the skin. Skin contact when making wine is called “maceration” and extracts color and fruit flavor from the skins without any bitter tannins! Think of it like making a cup of tea and how leaving a tea bag in your cup affects the color and flavor.
- Rosé isn’t a grape variety like zinfandel or sauvignon blanc, rather a style of winemaking that is made from red wine grapes! To achieve the pink shades found in rosé, a wine is kept in contact with the grape skins for just hours. You can learn more about the different styles of rosé here.
- Sauvignon blanc was first planted in Dry Creek Valley by Dry Creek Vineyard founder, David Stare. This grape grows best in DCV due to the well-draining + mineral rich soils and notable temperature change from day to night aka the diurnal shift! Read more about Dry Creek Valley’s signature white wine.
- Today, nearly 2,200 acres of zinfandel are farmed in Dry Creek Valley making it the top planted grape in the region. In the 1870s, Frenchman Georges Bloch planted the first zinfandel in Dry Creek Valley. By the 1880s, zin was the dominant grape planted across 900 acres of the region and continues to be to this day.
- After about age 50, a zinfandel vine is considered “old,” but at 50, zin may not yet be half-way through its life. In Dry Creek Valley, you will find vineyards with vines that are more than 120-years-old! “Old vines contribute an intensity and complexity of flavor to the wine that cannot be replicated by any other method,” says Ridge Vineyards, whose 115-year-old Lytton-Springs vines make one of the nation’s best-loved Dry Creek Valley zinfandel blends. Want to study up on Old Vine Zin? We got you covered.
- The big 3 of a winemaker’s decision to harvest grapes are sugar, acid and tannin. Sugar and acid are measured with a refractometer – tannins however are sampled by tasting the grape!
- Cheers! Grapes for sparkling wines are harvested notably earlier than others because winemakers are looking for a higher acidity. They are harvested with extra care as to not to disturb the flavors and minimize any harsh compounds that may be imparted from the skin of the grape. Be on the lookout for new sparkling wines coming from Dry Creek Valley wineries in the future!
- Did you know that it takes a newly planted vineyard at least 3-years to produce fruit that’s quality enough to go grape to glass? Then at least a year after that until your bottled wine is ready to drink! More if you’re looking to age your wine in oak. Good thing we’re patient – mostly because we know it’s worth the wait.
- Time for some harvest math! Per acre of wine there are 1.5-7 tons of grapes produced. Per ton of grapes there are roughly 150 gallons of wine. 1 barrel of wine is 60 gallons which is about 295 bottles of wine (24 cases). AND there are ~30lbs of grapes per case of wine and ~2.4lbs of grapes in one bottle of wine. Phew – time for a glass!
Harvest is one of the best times to visit us in Dry Creek Valley.