Monday, December 5, 2011


Night harvest

Grapes being harvested to make wine once conjured images of a tired crew of grape pickers laboring under the sweltering afternoon sun.  While that was the correct image once upon a wine, it's not anymore.  An article in USA Today described how grapes are picked these days.

About two-thirds of California's wine grape harvest is plucked from the grapevines in the dark of night, lit up like daytime by an array of 1,000-watt lights towed through the vineyard by a tractor.

There are quite a few benefits for harvesting grapes in overnight hours.  For one, winemakers like to take the grapes when it's cool, so the daytime heat won't have a chance to change the sugar level and affect the end product.

It's also greener to pick at night.  Grapes picked under the hot sun have to be refrigerated after picking, or put through some other process to bring their temperature back down.  When picked at night, that energy - and money - can be saved.

The people who pick the grapes don't mind getting out of bed in the middle of the night to go to work - it beats working in what might be temperatures of 100 degrees or more during the afternoon.

The lights which are moved along the rows of grapes are similar to the ones construction crews on the highways use for night work.  Some vineyards are now moving past that, giving the pickers head lamps to wear so they can illuminate their own workspace.

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