By Cassidy Rose Gyetvan
Fall is here! You know what that means? Harvest season! September through November are some of the most exciting months at a vineyard. During this time the grapes are plucked from their vines and turned into wine. Once you pick a grape, it can no longer ripen, so winemakers have to be very specific about when exactly they pick their grapes. Some winemakers use a “late harvest” and let the grapes sit on the vines longer so that they retain more sugar.
Grapes can either be picked by hand or by machine. Most natural winemakers prefer to pick the grapes by hand, as this causes less damage and harm to the grapes and gives them more freedom in using the whole grape. Harvesting with a machine is less precise but is definitely faster for those in a hurry.
After the grapes are picked off of the vines, it’s time to press them. Winemakers will remove the stems and smash the grapes. The skin, seeds, and juice all together are called the “must.” The wine receives its color from the skin of the grape. The skins of white grapes are removed which is why white wine has no color. But red, orange, and rosé all get their color from the grape skin which is left on for a period of time, called “maceration.” Then, after a day or two, yeast is added to the wine, and it begins to ferment. Eventually, after many steps, you have the wine that you know and love!
Interested in going to a harvest? You can contact a winery you like directly about working the harvest. Just want to taste some wine? Head down to your favorite winery for a tasting! Some wineries I like in California: Coturri Winery in Sonoma, Donkey and Goat in Berkeley, and Corison Winery in St. Helena.
Cassidy Rose Gyetvan is an actress, casting director and sommelier based in Los Angeles. She has worked at numerous wine shops and restaurants around LA and her taste focuses on natural and unique wines.