Gathering The Grapes

Although I have described the process already, I will here again

reiterate that the grapes should be thoroughly _ripe_. This does not

simply mean that they are well colored. The Concord generally begins to

color here the 5th of August, and we could gather the majority of our

grapes, of that variety, for market, by the 15th or 20th of that month;

but for wine-making we allow them to hang until the 15th or 20th of

September, and sometimes into October. Thus only do we get the full

amount of sugar and delicacy of aroma which that grape is capable of

developing, as the water evaporates, and the sugar remains; it also

loses nearly all the acidity from its pulp; and the latter, which is so

tough and hard immediately after coloring, nearly all dissolves and

becomes tender. The best evidences of a grape being thoroughly ripe

are: 1st. The stem turns brown, and begins to shrivel; 2nd, the berry

begins to shrivel around the stem; 3d, thin and transparent skin; 4th,

the juice becomes very sweet, and sticks to the finger like honey or

molasses, after handling the grapes for some time.

It is often the case that some bunches ripen much later on the vines.

In such a case, the ripest should be gathered first, and those that are

not fully ripe remain on the vines until mature. They will ripen much

quicker if the ripest bunches have been removed first.

The first implements needed for the gathering are clean wooden and tin

pails and sharp knives, or better still, the small shears spoken of in

a former part of this work. Each gatherer is provided with a pail, or

two may go together, having a pail each, so that one can empty and the

other keep filling during the time. If there are a good many unripe

berries on the bunches, they may be put into a separate pail, and all

that are soft will give an inferior wine. The bunch is cut with as

short a stem as possible, as the stem contains a great deal of acid and

astringency; every unripe or decayed berry is picked out, so that

nothing but perfectly sound, ripe berries remain.

The next implement that we need is a wooden tub or vat, to carry the

grapes to the mill; or the wagon, if the vineyard is any distance from

the cellar. This is made of thin boards, half-inch pine lumber

generally; 3 feet high inside, 10 inches wide at the bottom, 20 inches

wide at the top, being flat on one side, where it is carried on the

back, and bound with thin iron hoops. It is carried by two

leather-straps running over the shoulders, as shown in Fig. 29, and

should contain about eight to ten pails, or a little over two bushels

of grapes. The carrier can pass easily through the rows with it to any

part of the vineyard, and lean it against a post until full. If the

vineyard is close to the cellar or press-house, the grapes can be

carried to it directly; if too far, we must provide a long tub or vat,

to place on the wagon, into which the grapes are emptied. I will here

again repeat that the utmost cleanliness should be observed in _all_

the apparatus; and no tub or vat should be used that is in the least

degree mouldy. Everything should be perfectly sweet and clean, and a

strict supervision kept up, that the laborers do not drop any crumbs of

bread, &c., among the grapes, as this will immediately cause acetous

fermentation. The weather should be dry and fair, and the grapes dry

when gathered.

Gathering The Fruit To Make Wine Girdling The Vine To Hasten Maturity facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail