Tag Archives: harvest

Sample collection: from veraison to the end of the harvest

It is one of the most important processes before the beginning of the harvest since it will determine when the picking of the grape can begin. We are talking about the sample collection, and we always do it on site. Sampling is essential to know the state of the vineyard before harvesting. If grapes are not ripe enough, it will have an impact on the quality of the wine, that is why controls in the vineyards are so important just before the harvest.

The technical staff of the vineyard of Cuatro Rayas Winery is in charge of this important task. In general, they use defined sampling patterns in order to ensure repetitions and that all of them are taken in the same places. That is to say, in the same vineyard terrains, in the same row of vines, around the same vine plants.

It is important to know that the samples are taken randomly, but the result of the tests will provide us with the same results as if they analysed the whole plot. This process is constantly performed, from veraison, usually in mid-August, until the end of the harvest. In the case of Cuatro Rayas Winery, we take samples on almost all of the 2,300 hectares of vineyard owned by our cooperative members. Once collected and accurately identified, the samples are transferred immediately to the Laboratory at Cuatro Rayas Winery.

When the grapes are in the Laboratory, firstly, they weigh the berries. Next, they crush them to obtain must, and they analyse the acidity and potential alcohol. If the tests meet the desired parameters, they send the results to the Vineyard Department, which will begin to schedule the harvesting of the grape from the plots that were given the green light, right away and as soon as possible.

 

Manual harvest in Cuatro Rayas

When the harvest time comes, the engine of the winery sets in motion. Tractors, trailers, loading hoppers, machines and all technical staff of the winery work at full capacity. Grape pickers also have a key role; even though we harvest the majority of the vineyards in Cuatro Rayas mechanically, gobelet-trained vineyards require manual harvesting.

Today, we came to the vineyard terrain of two brothers, Ignacio and Jacinto Martín, located in Pago Bodeguilla de Serrada (Valladolid). Both are winegrower members of Cuatro Rayas, and during these days, grape pickers work hard to harvest the grapes. The process is completely manual. Nowadays, baskets and old panniers gave way to boxes, where they place the freshly cut bunches, one by one, rejecting the damaged ones. The process requires a delicate and skilful handling, sometimes bordering artisanship, from the cut with the secateurs to the placing into the boxes. Once boxes are filled, they are load into the trailers, and then the load is transferred to the winery in the shortest possible time. In this way, we can maintain, to the extent possible, the temperature and the quality of the grape.

Having a chat with Jacinto Martin made us remember how different harvesting was in years past when everything –absolutely everything– was picked by hand. It had little to do with the economic activity generated nowadays with the sales and the production of wine: harvest was simply a big celebration and a family gathering. It is difficult to forget the picture of the vineyards crowded with children, old people, people of all ages, neighbours from other villages, pack animals, charts, baskets crammed with grapes.
Over the years, first changes arrived, and machines changed harvest into something completely different. The first machines arrived in the region in the 80s from France. At first, winegrowers looked at them askance, but soon enough, they realised their advantages: they picked grapes faster, and they saved many costs, mainly workforce related. However, despite the mechanisation, those precious gobelet-trained vineyards kept by some of the members of Cuatro Rayas Winery deserve human and individual care and attention.

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