October 4, 2010 | by Lisa Mattson
Watching a picking crew night harvest wine grapes is an unbelievable rush. Your eyes fight to follow the hooked knives slicing away at each stem. You hear the grapes shaking on the vines as the workers tug the canes. A tractor engine hums. You hear the men shout for more collection bins. But you can’t see anything–unless you follow the lights.
This is the beauty of night harvest wine. (And one of the four secrets to Chardonnay winemaking.)
We harvest Jordan Russian River Valley Chardonnay vineyards in the coldest hours of the night, so the grapes arrive cold with crisp acids, ideal sugar levels and brighter fruit flavors. Harvest typically begins in early September, though in cooler climate vintages like 2010, 2011 and 2018, Chardonnay harvest can start in late September. The 2010 harvest captured in this video began on September 17 with one small block of Russian River Chardonnay, then crush kicked into high gear on September 29 after a brief heat wave September 24-27.
Thanks to our friends at Cal Plans Vineyards for working so hard to ensure cold, pristine grapes are delivered to our winemakers. We followed this same crew for our night harvest wine video for 2011 Jordan Chardonnay, which includes subtitles explaining the importance of night harvesting these delicate-skinned white wine grapes.