And why is it important for some wines...?
What is green harvesting? Ask Decanter
Green harvesting is the process of removing extra grape bunches from a vine, with the aim of balancing leaf area and fruit weight for a crop that can achieve better ripeness.
Why is this important?
‘The leaves carry out the photosynthesis that produces the sugars which allows the grapes to ripen so, if there are too many grapes and not enough leaves, the vine will struggle to ripen the berries,’ said Chris Foss, head of the wine division at Plumpton College.
With fewer grapes, the flavours can get more concentrated.
‘This is particularly important in wine styles where you are seeking concentrated fruit flavours and body – such as full-bodied reds – and also in late-ripening years,’ Foss said.
‘Normally, it’s done by hand, around when the grapes are undergoing veraison, so that the grower can spot the bunches that are less advanced than the others.’
This can make green harvesting an expensive process, and so the practice is more generally found in Premium wines.
In the recent Decanter Wine Legend article on Vinedo Chadwick 2000, Stephen Brook noted that ‘green-harvesting ensured yields were reduced to a level that maintained fruit concentration and maturity’.
When not to do it
Foss said, ‘I would not encourage English wine producers to do it this year, except on grapes destined for still Pinot Noirs, as we are sparkling wine producers so don’t want much colour or flavour in our base wines, – and it’s an early year.’
‘If all goes well, the extra fruit will delay ripening, but, in an early year, the fruit will still ripen.’