One of the benefits of working with a winemaking consultant is having someone readily available reminding you to prepare for harvest.
Harvest sneaks up on all of us.
The time is now to prepare the cellar for the 2021 harvest season.
Here are some suggestions, tools, and resources to get you in the harvest spirit even when it feels a few weeks away.
Get Your Cellar Supplies Early
I encourage all winemakers to get into the habit of reviewing and ordering all winemaking or enological supplies by July. If you are in the Southern part of the country with harvest starting in July, you may need to review and order supplies by June.
Every winemaker has a series of things they absolutely cannot go without during the harvest season. Thus, this planning step guarantees the necessities for harvest are considered and covered.
This is also a great time to review new products that may have hit the market since last harvest season. Setting aside a few hours before the grapes hit the cellar floor is a great opportunity to minimize some chaos and stress that will occur during harvest season.
Through DG Winemaking, I publish a list of Harvest Must-Haves, which is a comprehensive list of enological items I think every winery should consider having in stock by the time harvest starts. For 2021, I have also included some new items for winemakers to consider that have proven helpful to many operations I work with as a consultant. Some of these things include:
- Residual Sugar Testing Kits. While it may be challenging to find Clinitests nowadays, both Enartis and Presque Isle Wine Cellars have alternatives in stock that can better assess when primary fermentation is complete.
- Sample Tubes and Bottles for Analysis. This is a harvest must-have. Whether you plan on running your own analysis in-house or sending out samples, having a set of tubes and bottles to take adequate wine samples creates ease and harmony during the harvest season. Some wine labs will send pre-printed labels or sample bottles if you inquire ahead of time. Think about how much time is saved if the volume of the sample vial is known before someone goes looking for one. Want to really be on the ball? Stock up on ice packs and pre-printed sheets or sample labels to identify the analysis you will most likely purchase during harvest.
- Grape Biological Control Agents. Are your grapes going to sit in transport for some time before they reach the cellar door? You may want to consider checking out some biological control agents like the Lamothe-Abiet (L.A.) non-fermentative yeast product, Excellence B-Nature.
Want the inside scoop on products I recommend? Consider becoming a DGW Elite Member to gain access to the guidance provided through DG Winemaking and bi-monthly group consulting sessions to help you make good winemaking decisions for your operation.
Trying Something New in the Cellar? Prepare Now!
This may sound boring, but certain wine styles like Pét-Nats, many sparkling wines, and even some styles of formula wines require the winemaker to take specific actions starting at harvest. By ignoring these essential steps, getting a Pét-Nat in bottle that doesn’t gush everywhere when it’s opened may not be a possibility by the time the winemaker is ready to bottle it.
If you can’t go all in for a winemaking consultant, use DG Winemaking’s resources that lay out common steps or processes required for specific styles of wine. These guides should help you evaluate how the recommended steps can be integrated into your production. Supplement this knowledge with a DGW Elite membership to ask me directly about steps you should take to make that wine.
Here’s a few wine styles that include common guidance and recommendations for production:
- Pét-Nat Production
- Producing a Base Wine for Sparkling Wines
- Rosé Wine Style Variation and Production Details
- Co-Fermenting Red Wines
- Producing Appassimento Style Wines
- Altering Sulfur Dioxide Strategies for Juice and Wine
- Creative Wine Styles for Hybrid Wine Grape Varieties
If you are planning on trying something new this year and could use some assistance in avoiding those first-try mistakes, we would love to have you join our DGW Elite membership. This is a low-cost, consulting option that makes getting the help you need practical and affordable. We have a lovely community of winemakers that are very welcoming. Plus, your operation will benefit from my on-going commitment to help operations just like yours make the best wines you can.
Fine Tune the Fundamentals
If you listened to my recent interview with winemaking consultant, Luke Holcomb, you know I’m a stickler for winemaking fundamentals.
Because these are the steps where I see the operations I work with make the smallest improvements with lasting impact on their bottom line, wine quality, or both. These are the things EVERY winery can improve upon at any moment.
However, we rarely like to talk about these topics: sanitation, how to complete a fermentation successfully, avoiding wine flaws, operation order, etc. But conquering the fundamentals is usually the primary step to creating great wines of quality.
Are you ready to start making some small winemaking improvements for a large return on wine quality? Then come check out some of the things we have for you: