berry tasting

how do you know when to pick the berries off of the vine?  by tasting them of course.  the decision to pick the grapes is such an important one because the grapes are at their peak for just a few days.  grape growers and winemakers usually begin tasting the grapes weeks before they are ready to be harvested.  while each berry varietal should have different characteristics certain criteria are always the same, no matter the grape.

during harvest the color in both skins and seeds change.  a perfect grape has a brown seed.  sometimes the timing of the skins and brix ( or sugar) do not match up with that of the seeds, which is usually overlooked because brix and skins (especially for reds) is often more important.

the color of the actual grape its self is another sign of its maturity.  There is a point in which the color of the grape begins to turn from green to blue, red, straw yellow or even white depending on the variety.  This change is a very good indicator of its ripeness however because some grapes the color change is so subtle it should not be the only factor.  the firmness of the skin is another factor.  when berries begin to ripen (especially red berries) the skin begins to form a slack off of the pulp and the pulp itself begins to soften.

berry tasting pinot noir from Santa Maria Valley

my professor teaching berry tasting using pinot noir from Santa Maria Valley

when the grapes have reached maturity the berries stop growing.  with that being said, berry size is another sign of when grapes are close to being picked.  when a berry can be pulled off of the stem and little to no pulp is left on the pedicel (or stem) it is ready.

winemakers typically walk through the vineyards and taste the berries. when the berries loose the extreme sourness and exude mostly signs of sweetness then they are ready.  as the grapes begin to reach maturity sugar, color and pH increase as the acidity decreases.  when tasting the berries a low amount of acidity is desired.


~ by tymaripaige on October 7, 2009.

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