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Why are grapes picked at night? Ask Decanter

Some wineries choose to harvest their grapes at night - but why? We ask the winemakers...

Why are grapes picked at night? Ask Decanter

Some wineries choose to harvest their grapes at night because of the cooler temperatures.

‘We want to get the grapes when they are cold; it helps to concentrate the aromas and flavours,’ Alejandra Vera, winemaker at Viña Vik, in Casablanca, Chile told Decanter.com.

‘Cool fruit means better control over the fermentation process. You’re looking for crispness and aroma – especially important for white wines and rosés,’ said Marcel Koning from Provence-based Mirabeau, on their website.

‘The cooler temperatures keeps sugar levels more stable.’

Eran Pick, winemkaer for Tzora Vineyards in  Judean Hills, told Decanter.com,’We harvest manually at night, starting at 20:00 and finish at about 5am. The reason we harvest at night is mainly for the temperature.  

‘The grapes get to the sorting table in the winery at 6am with temperature of 18 degrees Celsius. If we harvested during the day, the temperature of the grapes could be 35 or more, which means lost aromatic precursors and higher oxidation rate.’

‘[Harvesting at night] means better complexity of aromatics, better control for the start of the fermentation and less oxidation of fruit.’

grapes harvested at night

Harvesting at night. Credit: Haim Starge / Tzora Vineyards

Energy efficiency

Harvesting at night can also help wineries to save energy.

‘We use cold maceration, so it uses less energy if we don’t have to cool the grapes down. Picking at night makes sure all of the grapes are the same temperature,’ said Vera.

‘Harvesting at night results in better wine, lower energy costs and greater efficiency,’ said Koning.

In particularly hot climates, picking at night also means cooler conditions for the pickers.

‘Another reason is that the workers love it,’ said Pick.

‘They would rather work at night when it’s not hot, rather than working when it is 30-32 degrees outside.’

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