It is now day 48 of grape harvest 2018 in Niagara. Grape harvest for us started on August 31st as we hand-picked pinot noir destined for sparkling wine at a nearby winery. We have another 2,500 tonnes to be picked, and from that 100 tonnes will be hand-picked for certain wineries, while the rest will be harvested by machine.
Harvest is a crazy time of year for us. It is hectic, labour-intensive and tiring, but we love it. However, there are certain things that are out of a grape grower’s hands which cannot be controlled, such as the weather. This is the season that farmers are glued to the Weather Network station, when conversation quickly turns to the next day’s forecast, and when the weather app is checked more often than checking in at home.
In an ideal grape growing world, the days during harvest would be warm and sunny, and the nights cool. But that is not our reality, we are constantly combating and conquering the weather with tools designed to help us keep everything under control, and this year has proved to be quite the challenge leaving us with a smaller crop than previous years.
This year, 45 people make up our harvest crew and we couldn’t do this without them. The majority of our team spend their days in the vineyards making sure that the grape bunches are clean of rot, we have six machine operators that drive the harvesters and the gondolas, and three team members drive the big trucks delivering grapes to wineries. In total, we manage and harvest over 1,300 acres and deliver grapes all over Ontario’s grape growing regions.
This will be our routine until mid-November, maybe earlier depending on Mother Nature, and after that, we will celebrate another harvest in the books. But until then, find us in the vineyard, just look for the blue New Holland Opti Grape