Saturday, September 26, 2009

Young Oak Vineyards: Volume 39: Crush Alert !!!

First thing is first,

Sorry for the last minute notice, but "THE CRUSH IS ON, BABY !!!!!"  We are going to be picking our first major harvest of grapes this:

* Saturday, October 3rd
* Coffee & Mornin' Food 8:30 a.m.
* Pickin' Begins  9:30 a.m.
* Wine Makin' 10:30 a.m.

Bring your own hand shears and gloves !!!

I been using the old methods of determining the time to pick, which are touch, taste and seed color.  And although I usually can tell which tomato to buy in the grocery store, there seems to be a little bit more to it in the vineyard.  The sugar in grape is predominately glucose, which is about half as sweet as cane sugar or sucrose. Therefore, the sweetness difference is very subtle.

Anyway, to be sure, I bought an instrument called a refractometer scope, which uses sun light and refraction to determine the percent sugar content (by weight) of a liquid like grape juice.  You know how if you put a spoon or a pencil in a glass of water it appears to be bent.  That's refraction!  Light gets bent (actually slows down) in different mediums like water, glass or grape juice.

Well, someone calibrated the amount refraction (light bending) that occurs with the amount of sugar by weight in water, which they measure in degrees brix.  The reflectometer has a glass platform to place a couple of drips of fluid on. And when you look through thru the eyepiece, thru the glass platform, you see a scale super-imposed on the field of view.  You first calibrate the scale with a sample of distilled water (no sugar there).  My scope was right on right out of the box, O% sugar!  Then you try a sample, in my case, grape juice.

So, I walked through the vineyard today and grabbed a sampling of grapes from different vines separately smashing them in different plastic bags.  I found that the brix for all my grape juice samples ranged from 23 to 24 degrees or 23 to 24% sugar.  The typical range for ripe grapes in brix is 20 to 24 degrees!  So, it is time to pick, but the earliest I can do it is next Saturday!

Anyway, I have to hit the books, learn how to make wine and find all the necessary equipment & supplies to crush, de-stem & press the grapes. Not to mention the fermentation container(s), buckets, etc.!  Pray it doesn't rain!

Wishing you well from down in the vineyard!
John

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