August and September are harvest time at Page Springs Cellars in the Verde Valley of Arizona.
It’s just after sunrise at the House Mountain Vineyard where we’re harvesting the first pick of Petite Sirah.
Being in Arizona, monsoon activity is a factor every year in deciding when to harvest. (Monsoon is a term that is used locally to denote our intense summer storms.)
We may put out the call to harvest if we’re expecting a big storm, or we might have to wait to harvest the grapes until after things dry out and the numbers (Brix and acids) fall in a favorable range again, since rain lowers Brix.
[The Vineyard Managers test the grapes for sugar in Brix using an instrument called a refractometer. They also test pH, and the cellar will often run tests for TA (titratable acids). When these numbers fall where the winemaker wants them, the grapes are ready for harvest.]
Grapes are harvested by hand with the help of volunteers and paid labor, then put into buckets.
Because of the desert heat, grapes are picked off the vines and put into bins while it is cool out. An ATV goes through the property and picks up full buckets and delivers to the truck, where the grapes are then emptied into open top bins.