A question that is often asked, “How do you determine when to harvest?”
In other words, “when are the grapes ripe?” Easily asked, but hard to answer! I base my decisions on the style of wine I like; full fresh flavor extraction without cooked, raisiny overtones. It’s based on a more European vision of wines that age well and pair well with food.
First and foremost is how the individual berries taste. I base this on my forty years of experience making wine from the same vineyard. To back that up comes my refractometer. A cool tool to measure sugar levels. I like to calculate which rows I am sampling beforehand to help get the most accurate sample set. Then I’ll walk the rows gathering berries (and eating them, delicious!) from the shady interior and the sunny exterior. That allows my sample set to have the best lookalike representation of all of my fruit in the vineyard. With the berries gathered, I juice them by hand (fun smooshy work), and some of it goes in the refractometer and some goes to the lab for pH/acidity readings.