Harvest and the Pursuit of the Perfect Grape
What does it take to create the well-balanced, complex flavors in Edna Valley Vineyard wines? Time, patience and a dedication to cultivating the perfect wine grape.
Growing the perfect grape is as much intuition and experience as it is science. While the process remains the same each year, variables like soil, temperature and moisture throughout the growing season ultimately determine when a grape is ready to be picked.
During the warm fall days on the Central Coast, our growers in the Edna Valley are tending to their vineyards, paying close attention to the maturing fruit. The heat of the afternoon sun each day promotes sugar development in the grapes, ripening them along the way. It’s this sugar content – known as Brix – that will be a key factor in determining when grapes are ready to be picked.
During harvest, we taste and test the grapes until we’re confident the fruit has ripened to the point when layers of sweetness, acidity, color and texture balance one another to create the complex flavors and ideal structure we’re looking for.
Each varietal ripens at different rates, and for each type of wine, we’re looking for a specific flavor profile.This means we’re likely picking grapes at different times throughout harvest.
In general, grapes for sparkling and dry white wines are picked earlier in the season, while grapes for reds and sweeter wines tend to be harvested a bit later in the season when the fruit has ripened and the sugar content is higher.
For example, when harvesting Chardonnay grapes, we’re looking for a bright acidity that you can find expressed in our 2016 Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay. To achieve this wine’s taste and texture, we pick these grapes earlier in the ripening stage when the acidity is a bit higher.
However, for reds like our 2015 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon or our 2014 Central Coast
Merlot, we’ll harvest these grapes later in the season when the fruit has had more time to develop the deeper, richer flavors that bring a complexity to these full- and medium-bodied red wines.
Soon enough, the last of the grapes will be picked and another harvest will end. As the sunshine-filled days give way to longer nights, our growers will be back in the vineyards tending to their vines with time and patience, pruning and trimming, preparing for the growth cycle to begin again.