For the North America, wine grape harvesting season has started and is set to continue until the end of October, if not longer depending on growing & grape conditions. With that we wanted to cover how to harvest grapes in 2022.
As mentioned previously, North American harvesting season is primarily in fall. "Fall" is a very loose guideline however as harvesting depends more on the grapes rather than the time of the year.
Additionally, depending on which hemisphere you are in, this time range flip completely. Many wineries rely more on the actual grape condition rather than going by any type of season.
Throughout the entire growing season, grapes are monitored until the right conditions have been met for harvesting. This is where the style of wine comes in. Each style has different levels of acidity and sugar required, and wineries make sure to pay close attention and only pick once the grape is at the desired condition.
Generally, white wine grapes are harvested first to ensure lower sugar levels followed by red wine grapes and lastly ice wine grapes.
Harvesting methods can be sorted into two categories: Manual Harvesting & Mechanical Harvesting.
Manual HarvestingThe traditional way of harvesting grapes, manual harvesting yields the highest quality grapes possible. Crews are trained to specifically select grapes for the desired style of wine. When compared to mechanical harvesting, this method is much slower, but yields the best grapes in terms of quality of taste and condition.
Mechanical HarvestingMechanical harvesting is the much more popular option of harvesting, using advanced machines to collect grapes. Large trucks straddle grapevine trellises and remove grape clusters using vibrations. The grapes then fall into collector plates and then into conveyor belts or collector bins. This method is much more efficient than manual harvesting but can often damage or bruise the grapes. The Grape Grower's Handbook has an amazing section regarding Mechanical Harvesting that is worth checking out.
Grape SortingOnce the desired grapes have been collected, a quality control process must be completed to sort out the good grapes from ones that may be unripe, damaged, or otherwise unwanted for the style of wine desired. Similar to harvesting, both mechanical and manual options are available, but most advanced wineries use a mix of the two with a heavy lean into mechanical.
Lastly, grapes are crushed for the fermentation process to begin. Wineries typically use automated crusher-destemmers. These break the skins of the grapes open to expose the juice and pulp, but without crushing the stems and seeds which contain tannins. Destemmers can remove stems before or after the grapes are crushed, depending on the type of wine and style desired – the quicker the stems are removed, the less tannic the wine will be.
And with that, the harvesting process is over, and the fermenting process can begin!
Harvesting Containers / Bins
If you are looking for containers, bins, or totes for storing or transporting your grapes, we specialize in bulk containers that are made from food grade approved plastic materials, either polyethylene or polypropylene. We cover majority of the winery process: From harvesting and fermentation to maturation and bulk storage.
For our entire division of containers meant for bulk storage head over to our: