Wine Grape Harvest
This morning, Sunday July 27, 2014, I was up early at 4:30 AM along with 11 other hardy souls to begin the Great Grape Wine Harvest at Brett Cook’s back yard vineyard located in the Oro Valley area of Tucson, Arizona. The 12 grape picker/ harvesters were made up of friends, neighbors and Arizona Wine Makers Club members.
Two Arizona Wine Makers Club members came all the way from Phoenix to participate in the harvest and take home some crushed grapes to make some wine. Of course they had to get up around 3:00 AM for the 2 hour drive from Phoenix to Tucson to arrive in time for the scheduled 6:00 AM harvest start time.
Activities started exactly at 6:00 AM with rolling up the Bird Nets so we could get at the ripe grapes. The grapes were all picked by 8:30 AM and in two and a half hours were ready for crushing and destemming.
Those taking crushed grapes home for pressing took their grape order quantity home with them today to press and start their batch of wine. Since I am fermenting my wine on the skins for 2 weeks and pressing them along with Brett’s grapes, I will have to wait another 2 weeks to press the grapes and start fermenting my wine in glass carboys.
Brett has 50 mature Barbera wine grape vines in his backyard vineyard which have been producing for the last 3 years or so. This year’s harvest netted a total of 876 pounds of harvested wine grapes which compares favorably to previous harvest years production.
Here is the math. 12 harvesters picked 876 pounds in 2 and 1/2 hours.. Average production equaled 73 pounds per person. Each picking pail holds about 25 pounds. So each person picked 3 pails on the average. Total man hours for the harvest were 30. Each one of the 50 vines produced 17.5 pounds of grapes which took just over a half hour each vine to pick. A rule of thumb is that each grape vine should produce enough grapes result in a gallon of finished wine.
I started germinating 33 wine grape vines from cuttings this spring consisting of 5 varieties of wine grapes in my backyard vineyard, two thirds the size of Brett’s vineyard, in the Saddlebrooke area of Tucson. It will take another 3 years at least for the cuttings to grow and mature until I can harvest any grapes. That means that I have to start soon recruiting a lot of friends and neighbors to help me with the harvest. All things being equal I will need 20 man hours to complete my harvest of the 33 grape vines. However, since I have 5 different varieties of grapes planted my production quantity and the timing of the harvest of each variety will vary from the results at Brett’s.
Brett mentored me with some practical hands on lessons on wine grape vine pruning this spring. Today’s mentoring lesson was on harvesting, destemming and pressing along with some advice on grape vine trellis construction. I appreciate all of his advice and help in getting my beginners backyard vineyard into production.
Enjoy the attached photos of today’s Barbera Wine Grape Harvest at Brett’s Place.
It was a fun and satisfying new Adventure.
Rose Crest Vineyards.