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The harvest at Quinta da Raza

When we start a new viticultural year, we can never guess the date of the harvest, it generally takes place from August to October depending on the year and on the grape variety. It is determined after detailed analysis and many considerations about the phenological state of the grapes.

The grapes must then have reached maturity. It is generally estimated that it takes 100 days between the appearance of the first vine flower and the maturity of the fruit. However, many parameters such as exposure, altitude, desired style of wine or type of grape variety influence the relative maturity of the grape.

Controlling the ripeness of the grapes remains the cornerstone in setting the harvest date. It is a question of determining the optimal date based on physiological maturation, which gives the degree/acidity balance, and phenolic maturation, which determines the quality of coloring matters and tannins.

At Quinta da Raza, regularly and at intervals of several days, we randomly remove some berries from the bunches, crushes them and collect the must that will be analysed in the refractometer, which will give us an indication of the potential alcohol degree. These initial indications are complemented by laboratory analyses of pH, acidity as well as pulp and skin tastings to assess phenolic maturity.

What is phenolic maturity? Phenolic maturity or phenolic ripeness refers to changes in grape phenols, compounds that include tannins, anthocyanins, flavonols and others that occur in grape skins, seeds and stems. Phenolic compounds are important substances in oenology. They are responsible for the color and flavor of the wines and will have an important role in the consumer perception of the its quality.

The alignment of all these parameters signals the start of 4 weeks of hard work. The state of maturity of each variety and each plot will determine the order of work. The grapes are then harvested into small boxes by experienced collaborators who are aware of the need to harvest only those grapes with the potential to produce quality wine.

The boxes are quickly forwarded to the winery where they are eagerly awaited by a diligent and motivated team that every year hopes to transfer all the quality of the grapes it receives into the wine. Between soft pressings, racking and other treats, the grape juice is transformed into wine by the action of yeasts, everyone's work is frantic, but the environment is one of mutual help and joy, not even the few hours of sleep each night can demotivate those who have a single objective, to do it well!

Between 15 and 30 days after the picking, fermentation ends and bringing together the different wines, from the various varieties and plots, is essential so that no quality is lost during the following year.