The harvest represents the crucial stage where the grapes, having reached maturity, are harvested before being sent to the cellar to be transformed into wine. And if we have long been used to seeing grape pickers working under the late summer sun, it is now more and more common to carry out this task at night. Let's discover the advantages of night harvesting .
Pick the grapes while they are fresh
If winegrowers decide to harvest bunches of grapes at night , it is above all a question of the temperature of the berries. Indeed, with the heat and the sun, the grapes become saturated with sugar, which tends to soften the fruit. By picking them at cool temperatures, we ensure less fragile, firmer berries .
This is even more true for winegrowers who wish to make sweet wine, with a high sugar level.
By harvesting at night, the fruit arrives at the cellar in better condition, and the work of the pickers is more pleasant, less meticulous, which allows them to go faster.
Night harvest: delaying the fermentation of the grape juice
The other reason that pushes the winegrower to harvest at night is always linked to the temperature, and concerns fermentation. To do this, you need to understand the stages of winemaking, particularly for white wines and rosé wines.
As soon as they arrive in the cellars, the grapes are directly pressed, before the juice is settled. However, for this process of settling, or clarification of the must, to work, it must take place before the juice enters fermentation.
It is then important that the grapes arrive at the lowest possible temperature in the cellar, because the heat activates the fermentation process. By avoiding harvesting during the day, we limit the risk of entering fermentation too early .
Harvest at night to limit energy consumption
Harvesting at night can also be a decision linked to energy consumption, and always has a link with settling. With daytime harvests, particularly in hot regions like Provence, the winegrower is sometimes obliged to cool the grapes upon arrival at the cellar, and before settling, to prevent them from entering into fermentation due to the heat. However, the use of cooling tanks generates enormous energy costs , which can be avoided.
We therefore easily understand the advantage of night harvesting , which avoids unnecessary energy expenditure, which is harmful to the planet, as well as to the winegrower's wallet.
More pleasant night work for grape pickers
Finally, it seems obvious, but we don't always think about it, it is always more pleasant for the grape picker to work cool . This is even more true in recent years, where two developments have changed the work in the vineyard:
- Rising temperatures accelerate the ripening of the grapes, and the harvest occurs earlier and earlier in the summer;
- Temperatures are getting higher and higher, and even at the end of summer, the days are sometimes scorching. The high temperatures make work in the vineyards very difficult.
The pickers then prefer to set their alarm well before sunrise and go to the vineyards before dawn, in order to benefit from better working conditions .
We then observe, more and more often, grape pickers working by the light of tractor headlights, well before daybreak.
A trend that extends to all of France due to global warming
For a long time, night harvests mainly took place in the South of France, where daytime temperatures easily exceed 30 degrees (compared to 12 to 15 degrees at night). Today, the phenomenon of global warming pushes more and more wine-growing regions of France to adopt this trend, in order to protect grape pickers from the heat of the blazing sun, and to ensure quality grapes for the production of red wines, white wines and rosé wines .
Many people think that the main benefit of the grape harvest is to allow the pickers to work in a cool environment. But it also and above all allows you to enjoy optimal quality grapes. The Berne estate then opted for night harvests for these reasons, but also in an environmental approach consistent with our conversion to organic farming.