What will this year’s yield look like? I often receive the question at the start of January already, and as I diplomatically like to answer it: we’ll see after we’ve picked it. Keep reading our harvest report – constantly being updated with the most recent news!
Regarding this year, we’ve finished shaping the vineyard towards the end of March, which was definitely a colder month this time compared to February. Later down the line, the coolness of spring brought a bit of delay to the plantation. The hot and dry summer allowed the grape to catch up to itself. The ripening actually increased to such a speed that it yielded one of the earliest harvests of all time. The draught proved to be a significant problem especially on the southern sunburnt sides of the grape field, where the lack of water weakened the vines. This resulted in a really tiny berry size, which usually in conclusion reduces the overall grape juice amount.
The unusual desert-like conditions didn’t hit us that hard as some others though. Here are the 3 main reasons why:
Since our dry wine storages have been hit significantly, we’ve made an important goal to at least create one smaller stock from each grape type in a dry or semi-dry variant.
The collection of the Zéta grape was unfortunately postponed due to a sudden Sunday night rainfall. By the time Tuesday came around, we were scuttling around the vineyard at full force.Thanks to the previous measurings we’ve done, it was clear that this grape variety would be the most ripe (21 must degrees - 230 g/l sugar), so we decided – naturally – to start with it. Healthy base material (read: no botrytis presence) is vital for creating good dry wines. I tend to make this clear every day for our fellow grape collectors; as I give out the „order” not to pick an entire row (it’s not important that a row is cleared of grapes) but rather to collect the necessary ingredients for the intended wine. This means that we collect the first grapes from the end of each row, since these are the most sun-exposed, healthiest of berries – all thanks to the location of the nearby crossroads.
Roughly 130-140 crates (around 2200 kgs) were filled every day. On one hand, this is the optimal amount of grapes to transport into the press, on the other, it’s completely enough to make one or two dry wines. The above amount is conveniently and comfortably harvested by 6 people, along with an additional 2 people ensuring the crates safely make it onto the vehicles. Finally, Laci gives a ride to all those crates all the way to Hétszőlő Winery, where the harvest is booming too, although they always make sure to press our grapes in time as well.
Unfortunately on Wednesday, it turned out that we can’t quite get enough manpower to continue the harvest. Following a quickly made decision, we’ve stepped inbetween the rows of the Sárgamuskotály area, which is notoriously way more difficult to collect, as it lays on a steep hill with terrible footing. We ended the day with 140 crates of golden-brown ripened 20,5 must degree (224 g/l sugar) grapes.
On Thursday, the number of able-bodied harvesters reduced to 5, although the 20 must degree (218g/l sugar) Kövérszőlő clusters – thanks to their large sizes – were making their way into those crates expertly. With an hour of extra work, we’ve managed to hit our quota on this day as well.
During all this, all the grape juice (must) had to be transported to Hétszőlő without delay. First, the liquid is pumped into a storage tank. After around 2 days of letting it sit there, the clear and transparent liquids were set into their place, where they will ferment into wine in the next 3-4 weeks. The Zéta and Kövérszőlő will do so in barrels, while the Sárgamuskotály does the same in steel tanks.
Furmint ripens a bit later than the previous 3 types. Therefore, we’re now in a 2-3 week long break, after which we will continue the harvest with the furmint once more, at full power. We’re also waiting and hoping for a decent September weather, so that the remaining fruit’s sugar level will prove to be concentrated enough for the making of some sweet wines as well.
The current grape juices are slowly beginning to ferment. The grape itself is resting. On the 7th, I had the chance to finally get my nasal surgery done. After my rousing, on 8th-9th, a great amount of rain had fallen.
The weather has turned cooler and rainy, which aren’t exactly the ideal conditions for the further ripening of the grapes. Instead of the hours-long, constantly rainy periods we’d have preferred the quicker, more intense rainfalls. After these sudden precipitations, the sun would then usually dry the plantations and the clusters quite fast. But for now, it’s not the latter sort of ideal weather up in the hills…
We’re continuing to survey the land, taking measurements and observing. The 3 early types unfortunately haven’t made that much progress. We’re in desperate need for those sunny, windy days. The Furmint and the Hárslevelű, however – as we expected –, are soon to be ready to be harvested for the base of some dry wines. The decision is thus made, the collection begins again next week.
September 25-October 2.
Harvest canceled. It's raining and raining...
Translated by Mara Várhelyi