Grape Harvests and Harvest Parties
Grape harvests are happening all over Texas, along with California, and Europe. What makes Texas so special is we have volunteer harvest parties at a variety of wineries, particularly in the Texas Hill Country. Since the Texas High Plains is flat, that area is conducive to mechanical harvesting of grapes. The Texas Hill Country in many areas needs human pickers, not mechanical pickers since the vineyards can be steep. Flat Creek Estate Winery and Vineyard near Marble Falls harvested their Montepulciano grapes this week with volunteers munching on breakfast tacos prior to harvesting grapes until lunch and then sipping on some wine over lunch celebrating the hours of harvest. The fun during harvest is tasting the grapes and chewing on those brown, nutty grape seeds in the vineyards. Later, you can watch the harvested grapes go through the de-stemming/crushing machine. Other wineries like Messina Hof in Bryan have a whirlwind of visitors to harvest certain rows for a half hour of harvest followed by the grape CRUSH. The one thing I love about grape harvest and CRUSH is the smell in the air. William Chris Winery near Fredericksburg has unique punch-down parties which allow you to experience the smells and sights of physically punching down the grape skin “caps” that evolve from the CO2 gases from the yeast eating the grape sugars and converting to alcohol which forces the grape skins to consolidate to the top of the fermentation vat. It is hard work to re-immerse those grape skin “caps” to push them physically downward with a stainless steel push pad on the ends of a handled stick to force those skins backs into the fermenting grape juice. The purpose of this exercise is to put those skins back into the fermenting juice to absorb the tannins and esters from those skins into the wine. If those skins were not re-immersed back into the fermenting juice, the floating skins could condense so dense as to support a human on this “floating island.” For more information, go to www.WilliamCrhisWines.com.
The air has an aura of sweet grape perfume in the air dominated by the grape characteristics of the grape varietals being picked. The sweetness comes from the grape juices in the picking bins with sugar levels between 25 to 30%. In addition, wiffs of green apples and pear from Chardonnay or dark cherry bouquets from the Cabernet Sauvignon float through the air. Of course, the birds and small mammals like raccoons love to visit the vineyards to satisfy their “sweet tooth.” Many vineyards have placed their bird nets across their vines several weeks ago to keep the birds out. Some vineyards employ bird cannons while others use raptor housing to act as a deterrent system to keep those grape-stealing birds out of the vineyards. Regardless, Mother Nature puts out challenges for vineyard owners. One of the biggest challenges, particularly in Texas, are those erratic summer thunderstorms that can dump an one or two of rain in localized areas causing vineyard owners to either speed up the harvest because of a tropical low with rain or delay harvest by seven to ten days because of rain which dilutes the grape sugars. Regardless, the parties in Texas do happen with the grape harvest since Texans know how to have fun, particularly in vineyards and wineries. For winery harvest parties, go to www.TxWines.org and click on FIND TEXAS WINERIES to get a full list of Texas wine harvest parties.
Texas Restaurants Serving Texas Wines
Max’s Wine Dive on Washington Avenue is a wonderful place to hang out with the Houston Elite. They proudly serve Lost Draw Marsanne wine from the Texas Hill Country. This white wine has tones of
Texas Grape Harvest and Harvest Parties
Grape Harvests and Harvest Parties