How is the night harvest done? We visit the D.O. Wheel
For the elaboration of the wine of the D.O. Rueda is the custom to carry out the night harvest. Thus, the grapes are harvested at a low temperature and furthermore their oxidation is reduced. A few days ago I had the opportunity to see the process, and I was even able to ride one of these machines to see the process first hand.
Although vines that are grown in glass have to be harvested manually and consequently it is necessary to harvest during the day, those that are trellised are perfect for harvesting by machine.
The night harvest
Watching these machines work is impressive. It is a gigantic machinery that illuminates with its headlights the lines of Verdejo grape vines, the most common variety in the area and the one that is used mainly to make wheel wines.
At night, the headlights of the machine are impressive and when the machine approaches, the inner area between the huge wheels looks like a huge mouth. The skill of the operator places the trellis in the center and a vibration system makes the bunches shake. The machine collects the grapes that are shelled and the bunches are "peeled" like rasps on the plant itself.
From the top of the machine, the view is very peculiar, when you see how the plants tremble, agitated by the vibration caused by the machinery that is also in charge of collecting the grapes, which are destemmed if they come with sticks or leaves. The plant is in perfect condition after the passage of the machine.
The next step is to dump the grape tanks that the grape harvesting machine has in containers pulled by tractors that are immediately taken to the wineries for immediate processing. In less than two hours, the harvested grapes are already in the entrance hoppers of the winery, after their quality control is carried out by taking samples.
Tractors are weighed at the entrance and exit of the warehouse to calculate exactly how much they are bringing. Once the trailer is overturned, the grapes are immediately cooled to lower the temperature a little more using nitrogen and they are immediately crushed and squeezed, passing to the tanks where the must is allowed to ferment.
Characteristics of the wines of the D.O. Wheel
Rueda wine is defined by three elements: the Verdejo grape, native to the area, the continental climate and the gravelly soils of the area. Within the denomination of origin, in addition to the Verdejo grape, other grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Viura or Palomino Fino are allowed.
The white wines made from Verdejo grapes have aromas with hints of scrub grass, with fruity touches and excellent acidity. They are wines of great harmony, which after passing through the mouth invite you to continue with the tasting. Although traditionally they are excellent to take as an aperitif and to accompany fish or white meats, they can also be used to accompany stronger dishes and red meats.
In this sense, there has been an evolution in production since lately the wineries of the D.O. They are also producing red and rosé wines and some barrel-fermented whites that are very interesting, although they still make very small productions.
During the visit to the area, I was able to visit several of the most representative wineries in the area and I tried the different varieties of wines produced, the barrel-fermented whites, some variety produced in concrete egg-shaped tanks and of course the more traditional and refreshing white wines.
With the night harvest system used mostly in the area, at the time of writing this post, D.O Rueda reported on its website that it had harvested more than 100 million kilos of white grapes and a million red grapes. We are looking forward to seeing how this year's harvest turns out, somewhat late but with a quality that is expected to be exceptional.
More information | Web D.O. Wheel Directly to the Palate | Quique Dacosta and Andoni Luis Aduriz tread the Abadía Retuerta grapes Directly to the Paladar | A little piece of the Rias Baixas bottled. Visit to the Formigal Winery
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