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Dawnine Dyer
September 19, 2011 | Dawnine Dyer

The Cabernet is Looking Good!

But it has a way to go. We’ve been berry-sampling this morning and just got back with our zip-loc bags full of grapes for tasting and analysis. We walk the vine rows and gather grapes from each section, or block, of the vineyard so we can gauge how quickly the grapes are ripening and when to finally harvest.

The main things that influence maturation are heat, light and soil moisture and we need to account for variations in the block. So, we take grapes from both sides of the vine. We eyeball the percentage of shaded clusters and gather accordingly. We like to take grapes from the top, bottom and middle of the cluster and also grapes from either side of the cluster. It’s smart to take berries from different parts of the vine, some from near the vine head and others further away... The sample should be as representative as possible because, ideally, we harvest the section once. 

Then, it's back to the winery to taste, get a good look and see how we're stacking up in terms of sugar, acid and pH.

There are some visual cues that we’ve got awhile to go. As you see, the skin color is nice and deep, almost black - that's great - mature Cabernet grapes should look like tiny blueberries. You notice the green seeds? If we were to harvest now, very harsh, bitter tannins would be extracted from them into the wine. We’d like to see something more like Grapenuts cereal - brown and crunchy. And, as we walked the vineyard the stems of the clusters still look quite green. Those should brown up, too.

I wish you could see the flavors. You'll have to trust me that they're coming along nicely, leaving the early season vege character behind and developing the dark, berry-like flavors we love.

The brix, or percentage of sugar, is at 19.3%. With the nice, warm weather predicted for this week we're probably looking at mid October to harvest, much like last year. 

Next post: Sugar, acid, pH: Why they're important


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