Million Dollar Question: When to Pick?

We’re in the thick of the harvest business and after months of preparing, tending to, and coaxing fruit from these vines we come to the annual moment of truth… when to pick?

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Sonoma County Zinfandel. Photo taken last week.

Winemakers across these wine-growing regions have been taking random samples of the vineyard periodically, squishing the grapes and testing the juice for sugar content and acid levels.  Mostly, we talk about brix, or the sugar concentration.  Table grapes that we buy in the super market generally have brix of 17-19.  Wine grapes are picked any where from 22 – 29. The sugar, ripeness (taste and whether the seeds have turned from green to brown), as well as acidity, and uniformity of ripening across the cluster and vineyard block very much effect the final wine.  So, at what point to pick is vital.