Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Are they ready yet?

Note: I wrote most of this blog post early last week, and then it sat there, unpublished, till now. In the meantime we harvested our flora last Friday, and now have fingers crossed for not too much rain for the syrah.

I have a new toy to play with this grape harvest season. A refractometer is a nifty piece of equipment that measures the sugar content of liquids, in this case the grape juice. Depending on your grape variety, you usually have a % sugar  (also known as 'Brix' if you want to sound technical) that you are aiming for at harvest, so it dictates when you pick them. Sugar content is particularly relevant for grapes because in the fermentation process it converts to alcohol.

I do berry sampling. This involves trying to pick random berries from throughout the vineyard, trying not to favour a particular part of the bunch (i.e. top vs bottom).

Then you squish the juice out - this is low tech way. In a proper winery they do have a more sophisticated way of doing this. 
Syrah juice ready to test.

2-3 drops go on the little screen, then you look in the eyepiece and read off the number (can't take a photo sorry). 

And since there is always loads of juice left, my favourite part is drinking it afterwards. The Flora and Pinot Gris is at 23% at the moment, so we are wanting to pick it asap, hopefully this Thursday or Friday. The Syrah is a 20%, it is always later, and we want to pick it at a higher sugar content anyway, so maybe a couple of weeks off yet.

I'll take my camera down to the vineyard soon - it is looking so gorgeous with all those lovely luscious bunches of grapes hanging there. 

1 comment:

  1. Ooooh Christy! I've been reading about refractometers in Organic NZ Magazine - I expect you've read Kay Baxter's articles there as well. I'd be very interested to read of any adventures with the refractometer in the rest of your garden.