We are becoming ever more familiar with the term “night-time harvesting”. It is easy to visualise all that this implies for an activity so closely associated with daytime hours and which, as a result of climate change and the longer, hotter summers it brings, can no longer be carried out during the day. Night-time harvesting is habitually and ever more frequently carried out in the southernmost designations, and of course, in Rueda.
It is based on the requirements and optimisation of the harvesting time; this is a process that should not exceed a maximum of six or seven hours from when the grapes are picked in the vineyard to when they arrive at the winery’s warehouses. We must keep in mind that the temperature variation in Rueda can change by 20 degrees at harvest time, dropping from 30º C that can be reached during the day to 9º C, and therefore night-time harvesting makes a big difference.
Every year is different, but what was once the exception has now become, over the years, the “new normal”: high temperatures at the time of the grape harvest and especially during excessively hot summers in which the temperature doesn’t drop at night. This means that the temperature of the grapes can be excessively high, and they can tend to split open during handling, and thus not reach the winery in optimal conditions. In any case, even ensuring the best conditions, the wines can end up having a shorter flavour due to the grape losing its aroma, which is precisely one of the most highly appreciated features of D.O. Rueda wines.
In contrast, when the grape is harder and firmer, it balances out the fermentation process and, depending on the harvest hours, enables the rehydration of the fruit, consequently reducing the alcoholic level of the final wine.
On a final note, this type of harvest is more appropriate for white grapes as they are more sensitive to light due to their colour and type of skin, while red grapes have a more resistant skin.
And now, LET’S ENJOY IT!