Wine Talk

Snooth User: Lucha Vino

Harvest Time

Posted by Lucha Vino, Oct 8, 2012.

Has anybody been working (paid or volunteer) at your local winery for harvest?

I just put in a half day shift at Fall Line Winery in South Seattle yesterday.  We had 7 bins of Cabernet Sauvignon and 10 bins of Cabernet Franc from the Red Willow vineyard to put through the destemmer and into the fermentation bins.

What an experience! The only place I think I have heard "go faster" is when I am racing my bike.

My back and hamstrings got an extreme workout.  So did my brain trying to look for bad grapes, leaves and other miscellaneous debris that should not find its way into the fermenter.  I will definitely go back and help again.  It was a great experience and unique way to learn more about what goes in to making wine.  I have a new appreciation for the labor of love that makes the delicious wines we all enjoy.



Reply by outthere, Oct 8, 2012.

We sorted 3 tons of Zinfandel last night.


Ive been chronicling  this seasons crop here --->

Reply by JonDerry, Oct 8, 2012.

Good stuff Lucha, gotta be nice getting your hands dirty and getting a feel for where the business starts.

That's quite a haul OT, do you know how many acres that covered?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 8, 2012.

Zin at premium places is about 2 tons an acre, give or take.  (That;s Talty's yield, dry farmed.)  Can be a bit more, but you can't push it too far.  I just bought some super old vine Zin (own root!) that crops at 1.5 tons per acre in a good year.

Cab is often cropped at higher levels.  Here's a presentation from UC Davis about costs of growing that puts the "consensus" yield at 5.75 tons per acre, which is really high compared to the folks I talk to, but I'm not really hanging out with the Gallos.

Here's a little more detailed study.  The relevant parts, with bolds added by me:

"Harvest. The crop is hand picked by a labor contractor. In normal producing vineyards (4-5 tons),
contractors may charge $120 to $150 per ton.

"Yields. Yield maturity is reached in the fifth or sixth year. An assumed yield of 5 tons per acre is used
to calculate returns in the production years. Typical yield range for Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa County is 3.5 to 6.5 tons per acre."

Pinot is like three to four tons an acre on average. Josh Jensen plants really densely, then keeps his yields at or below two an acre.

Although some of these stories are a little older, those numbers make sense to me based on winery trips I have taken.  I am sure OT knows some specific numbers of the wineries and vineyards he calls on. Also, the winemakers I talk to wouldn't dream of making and selling wine from vines less than four years old. 

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