At the end of August, depending on the year, the process of grape harvesting usually begins, lasting in some cases can until October. The night harvest is a common practice in some areas and winemakers in Spain, but not all of them, although it is something that is carried out more and more. The reason is because it offers a number of advantages, even if many do not just see it that way. Let’s see what they are.
The reasons for the night harvest
To lower temperatures. One of the most obvious reasons to make a harvest at night is because when the harvest season starts it is still summer and it is hot. It is during the night when temperatures drop and workers can make their harvest better and without risks.
Riper grapes. Some winemakers, such as those belonging to the Designation of Origin of Rueda, where this practice is quite common, point out that the night temperature helps when collecting and handling bunches because the grapes are harder, avoiding thus the fermentative lack of control.
Heat harms the grape. Not only high temperatures decrease the performance of grape harvesters but the grape also suffers. During the day, the grape tends to open up and arrives in bad condition at the winery. This entails a greater oxidation. At night all this does not happen, being the best time to pick them up and make sure they arrive correctly at the winery.
Cellars save energy. When temperatures drop, the cellar can save energy because all the collected grapes come at a lower temperature. With the heat, it takes a higher energy expenditure to cool down the chambers in which the fruit will be deposited.
Can all grapes be harvested at night? Although each winemaker has a different opinion, all types of grapes can be harvested at night, even if experts in the subject state that white grapes are the most indicated, since they are more sensitive to light because of their colour and skin type, and the red feature a more resistant surface.
Mixed harvesting system. As we can see, the night harvest has clear advantages but it does not extend throughout the territory. We would say then that there is a mixed harvesting, from the early hours of the morning to the night, which are in both cases when it is less hot.
More fruity wines. In this case, there are also experts who think otherwise, but some winemakers point out that the enzymatic activity of the grapes at night is very low, which is why it provides more fruity wines.