Yesterday, we started the first day of testing all grapes, of all varieties, in all plots, in all of our vineyards. The time is finally here.
At this time of year, some Texas vineyards in other parts of the state are already harvesting or even finished harvesting. For our longer season on the High Plains, we are just now doing laboratory and brix testing on every block. Even though many of the winemakers that we sell grapes to have already been to the vineyards to see the grapes progress, these test results will help them to determine when the grape is just right in ripeness for the purpose they are wanting to achieve for their planned wine.
Up until this point, we have done a little but mostly we are looking at and tasting the grapes, along the lines of the berry assessment techniques that we learned from Dr. Erika Winter.
Now, as you can see, is the time for more official testing to go along with the berry assessments. The grapes need more time for evening ripening, but it may be soon.
This year our grape harvest is taking more planning and different practices than we have used in the past years as shown here because we have so many more plots of vineyards to test.
This is going to take team work. And some new equipment to get the job done. We had a gator, now we have added four 4-wheelers.
Early morning training included safety skills (especially for our younger and inexperienced workers) and maintenance. Yes, I guess you can tell that we love country music, but we also like classical, jazz, etc.
Yes, everyone needs to know how to check the oil and the gasoline. Except for me of course because I’m too busy taking pictures. Let’s keep our priorities straight, right?
These 4-wheelers are for driving in the vineyards only, so they have to be loaded up on trailers to haul them from vineyard to vineyard.
Making sure that everything is strapped down properly.
Ready to roll…
Here is one of the 4-wheelers going down rows to pick random samples according to a laid out plan. The brix (sugar level) test results will determine which grapes to check next week. Then each testing will helps us determine when to start checking twice a week or more often. When we are getting really close to perfect ripeness we will start cluster sampling.
Here we have the labeled and color-coded bags. This helps everyone working together from sample gatherer to testers to result viewer to keep all the test results straight. It may take a time or two to get the system down. Just like yesterday when one person had to call another and say, “Hmmm, by my map and my bags, I am supposed to be selecting Viognier grapes – but these grapes on the vine in front of me are red! So, then it all gets worked out.
The baggy’s are then placed in a tote. Of course when Cliff saw “how” the totes were attached, he dashed the totes and cords off to the barn to do some welding and redesign in order to make them more functional and stable for our purposes.
Fun work watching the workers checking on the grapes, but the beauty of the grapes still dominate most of our eyes. We will continue our testing of these beauties, so that when they are ready; we will be ready. More on harvest soon.