Harvest, a beautiful and joyous time in the wine grape industry and a time when Dave, Helen, Jessie, and the rest of the d’Art Wines team celebrate the fruits of their labor, literally. But did you know that it takes years for grapevines to produce the rich, flavorful grapes we use to create the wine you love? Join us for a quick journey through the annual cycle of a grapevine and discover what really happens out in the vineyard.
Grapevines are a prime example of what a deciduous plant is in that they grow and bloom during the spring and summer months and go dormant during the fall and winter seasons. The cycle then repeats itself for the lifespan of the plant. Grapevines are also just that, vines. Should these vines be left to their own devices, one would find them self with a honeysuckle like bush/tree, full of dead undergrowth, spanning as far as the new growth can reach.
With the help of pruning and training, the grapevines form to be the sturdy, thick-rooted plants that we see in the vineyard. By allowing the grapevines to concentrate their energy on becoming strong, vital, and resilient, they're able to produce delicious, wine-worthy grapes. Many vineyards choose to postpone a grapevines fruit production by three years so the plants may reach what is considered optimum potential. This ensures the highest quality possible rather than risking the production of small fruit, which could lack flavor.
Now that we have a bit more understanding of what happens in the vineyard for a vine’s first three years, let's take a look at what’s in-store for the plants over the course of a typical year.
In the Northern Hemisphere, April brings new life. Buds begin to break through the otherwise seemingly dead vines. As these new signs of life begin to show themselves, vineyard workers are performing an annual task known as shoot thinning. Shooting thinning is an act that removes the unwanted, early canes from growing so the vines energy may be focused on producing the highest quality of grapes.
The buds then begin to blossom into what are known as the perfect flower. As self-pollinating, grape flowers find they are not indebted to bees, and are allotted all the credit as the season
June and July come quick, bringing with them immature, unripe clusters of grape bunches. All grapes begin their life as green berries that will change colors throughout their time on the vine. A period referred to as vérasion. It is during vérasion when the fruit changes from green to yellow, pink, red, or purple. This display of color creates a joy throughout the vineyard and gets Dave’s gears turning!
It is also during the summer months that grapevines undergo a green harvest, or thinning of superficial grape bunches. Excess growth is removed from the vines with a hope that they may once again concentrate their energy into the remaining grapes.
Quite possibly the most gorgeous, well-known time of year in the vineyard is fall and most commonly, lovingly referred to as the harvest season. Aesthetically pleasing, September through November sees a changing of the leaves and fruit that has achieved its full potential. It’s a time when all hands are on deck to make sure the grapes are picked in a timely fashion to begin the pressing and production of that divine nectar.
FUN FACT: Grapes do not continue to ripen once picked. It then becomes a case of what you see, and taste, is what you get!
Some grape producers choose to leave a small quantity of grape bunches on the vine until late fall. These late harvest bunches are known for producing sweeter grapes, making for the perfect dessert wine.
Once fall is complete, the grapes have been picked, and the last of the leaves have fallen, winter sets in in the vineyard. From roughly November until the following spring, the vines enter their dormancy but not before going through an extensive pruning. After removing the debris from the vines and the surrounding area, vineyard hands remain busy during the months of January and February diligently pruning and prepping the canes for the following spring.
Interested in knowing more? Visit us any time, during tasting room hours of course! We’d love to give you a tour of our facility and show you just how we do it here at d’Art Wines!