The harvest season is here !
You too can learn how the grape harvest is done in Provence and book our special Grape Harvest Tour to immerse yourself in a local experience that won’t wait.
For more than 3 weeks the winemakers will be all in the vineyards. Don’t miss this crucial moment in the life of the winemaker.
Key stages of the harvest in Provence
The first step is very important: determining the maturity of the berries. To know when the berries are ripe, we use a refractometer.
After having harvested some berries in all the rows of a plot to have the most representative sample possible, we put them in a small bag and crush them. The juice is then put into the refractometer. This device will allow us to measure the sugar level in the berry and therefore the alcohol level.
Once the winemaker is satisfied with his analysis and has tasted the berries several times to determine the thickness of the skin, the crunchiness of the grape pips, etc., he starts harvesting!
In Provence we have 2 ways of harvesting. By hand or with a harvesting machine. Each winegrower has his own preference and uses the most practical method that is best adapted to his area, his soil and his growing methods. In Provence, it is the mechanical harvest that is most used, partly because of the size of our land but also because of the importance of picking ripe grapes quickly.
Grape harvesting machine
For the hand-picking, the process starts the same way. A very early wake-up call between 1 and 2 am. After putting on his uniform, the picker takes a secateur, a bucket and a torch and goes to his row. The difference with mechanical harvesting is that the whole bunch is cut and not just the berries are picked. Additional work in the cellar is therefore necessary to separate the grapes from the stalks. Once the bucket is full, a picker puts the berries in a large trailer that goes to the cellar.
Once they arrive at the cellar, the berries are sorted and in some areas they are put through circuits to be cooled according to the temperature on arrival at the cellar.
This technique limits the onset of fermentation and allows the extraction of valuable aromas.
For some berries, they are passed through a crusher. This will allow the berries to be crushed very slightly and the juice to be released..
After being sorted and crushed, the berries are sent to the press. The juice is first allowed to run off: this is the drop juice. The best juice. The clearest and fruitiest.
Then the press will start. After being inerted with nitrogen, the balloons in the press are activated. With the movement, this will crush the berries very slightly and let the juice out. In general, the first two press juices are used in rosés. The third press juice is used for reds because it is too coloured and can be too tannic.
After each press, the juice is placed in stainless steel tanks. In these tanks, they will undergo their first fermentation: alcoholic fermentation. The one that transforms the sugars into alcohol. And that’s when the magic of the wine happened.
Come and experience the grape harvest with Beyond the wine!
Book our tour and come to the Domaine des Tournels in Ramatuelle!
Meet us in the vineyards with our coffee reception to watch the magnificent broom. Then head to the cellar of the estate to watch the grape harvest and follow the path of the grapes before they become juice. Tasting of the just pressed juice and end of the tour with a wine tasting in the cellar accompanied by a Provencal snack.
All of this will be done in the beautiful setting of the Domaine des Tournels, a HVE winery of 55ha in the village of Ramatuelle.