August is an exciting time to visit the winery and tour the vineyards. Last weekend, Barley Bus brought a group to Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery for a wine tasting and tour.
The group was led into the vineyard along rows of Concord grapes. The vines are full of leaves and, more importantly, clusters of grapes. By this time of year, red grapes have begun to turn color from green to various shades of red and purple. Varieties of green grapes will become more translucent in the skin color as the grape ripens.
The vineyard manager checks the progress of the vines to ensure healthy growth. Brix measurements are taken daily using a refractometer. Brix is a measure of the sugar level in the grapes. Two guests in the photos below are using a refractometer to assess the current reading.
Harvest timing depends on multiple factors. Have the grapes have reached the target sugar level, or Brix? As sugar level increases, has the acidity dropped to the desired pH level? Do the grapes show even coloration? Have the grapes plumped up as sugars increase? Judging by taste, are there traces of bitterness in the flesh or seeds? Are the flavors of the varietal evident?
Once various sections of the vineyard are ready to harvest, the winery's harvest team springs into action. Grapes are harvested by hand, row by row, and deposited into five-gallon buckets.. Once full, the buckets are loaded into large macro bins on the back of a trailer pulled by tractor up and down rows. Macro bins are taken to the crush pad to be weighed. Picked grapes are then loaded into a crusher/destemmer to remove the fruit from the stems. The crush process varies slightly between green and red grapes. In all cases, the goal is to minimize the time between harvest from the vine in the cool morning to the crush.
Spots are still available to help with the harvest. Space is limited and reservations are required. Email us to get on the harvest list. Please include a phone number, preferred date, and how many spots you would like.
Tentative harvest dates:
Sunday, August 27th
Sunday, September 3rd
Sunday, September 10th
Sunday, September 17th
Sunday, September 24th
Dates are tentative and will be revised as we test the sugars, evaluate the juice chemistry, and see when nature is ready for us.
Tentative date for our Annual Grape Stomp (I Love Lucy style) - Sunday, October 1st
Learn more about volunteering for a harvest party.
Creative director Pete Dulin documents wine, food and operations at Fence Stile Vineyards and Winery through writing and photography.