Harvest 2020 is “Wine”-ding Down

Thursday, October 15, 2020

This season grape harvest has started earlier than it did in 2019, with some varieties as much as a month ahead. The combination of climatic factors such as low precipitation and warm temperatures, created ideal conditions to accelerate the fruit ripening process of all the varieties in the province. Both hybrids and Vitis vinifera varieties have reached good sugar accumulation and the steady drop of acidity which allows for the maturity of balanced fruit. Currently, most hybrids have been harvested, particularly those intended for sparkling wine production while some remain on the vine for still wine production. The situation in Vitis vinifera varieties is similar with harvest is ongoing and the latest varieties to be harvested in the next couple of weeks, depending on climatic conditions, the vineyard objective and the health of the plants.

Figure 1. Frontenac blanc that has been machine harvested (left), and Pinot noir that has been hand harvested (right).

A couple of frost events earlier in the week have affected the vines, so it is recommended to evaluate the vineyard and the grapes which are still on the vines. If the canopy is starting to fall and bunches are still hanging, it’s important to check the fruit conditions and communicate your observations to the wineries. As the leaves start to fall, the plants are no longer able to increase sugar in the berries, nor to continue the process of carbohydrate accumulation for the next season. Depending on the strength of the frost, some damage can be observed on the skins of the fruit, which can make the fruit more susceptible to adverse situations, such as botrytis or other rots. Finally, it’s always important to maintain active communication with the wineries to align the fruit conditions with the winemaking purposes.

Figure 2. L’Acadie blanc (left) and Cabernet franc (right) after two consecutive frosts this week.