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Grape Harvest

See under vintage.

Term for the process of grape harvesting. Traditionally known as the "grape harvest ban", the beginning of the harvest was previously determined annually by the official bodies and, according to an old custom, announced publicly by shooting up the mountains. Today this can be determined largely freely by each winegrower himself. The quality term "Spätlese" no longer has any temporal significance. In Austria, a declaration of intent must be made to the municipal office on the day of harvesting for a Prädikatswein. An optimal state of ripeness of the grapes has an effect on the quality of the wine. The phase between harvesting and pressing or subsequent fermentation should be as short as possible to avoid undesirable contact with oxygen and loss of aroma.

Weinlese - Traubenlese 1903 (Rudolf Epp) und Bottich mit Weintrauben

An important quality factor is the type and shape of the harvest containers in which the grapes are stored and transported after they have been separated from the vine. A high quality harvest requires small and flat containers (as in the picture on the left) in order not to expose the grapes to too much pressure and to be able to bring them to the pressing house quickly and unharmed if possible. This reduces the risk of injury and contamination by putrefactive bacteria. Depending on the country and region, as for example in champagne, a maximum dumping height in centimetres is even specified. The lower the height, the better, but also the more complex the reading process. However, the traditional butte is also often used.

Weinlese - flacher Lesekorb und traditionelle Butte

The ideal time for harvesting is when the grapes have the best possible balance between the sugar content and the decreasing acidity. In the vegetative cycle of the vine, this is the maturation or physiological ripeness. Several criteria influence and determine the optimal time for harvesting. These are climate (damp weather or rain is negative, threatening rot or too much water), grape variety (there are early to late ripening varieties depending on the time of ripening), intended use as wine grapes, table grapes or...

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