Ripe, healthy, quality grapes make quality wine. Fact.
And grape selection is a vital step in the wine-making process. In the winery, only perfect, meticulously selected grapes make it as far as the tanks. As the harvest dawns, follow us into the vineyards for a behind-the-scenes insight into how we select only the finest quality grapes.
On the vine
The initial pre-selection takes place on the vine, in the weeks or even days running up to harvest. During this “preparation harvest” we remove any unripe grapes, while ensuring that the remaining ones are evenly spread on the vine. This helps the grapes reach optimum ripeness.
Harvesting comes next. Only healthy bunches are picked by hand. Any damaged fruit is removed using secateurs. With machine-harvesting, an integrated sorting system removes any MOG (material other than grapes, such as leaves or pieces of stem).
Arrival at the winery
Our expert team is assisted by the latest technology, combined with the most traditional methods.
- After harvesting by hand, like at Château Belgrave or Château La Garde, whole bunches are sorted on a vibrating sorting table, before destemming to remove any MOG, as well as any damaged fruit that may have escaped the vigilant eye of the pickers.
After destemming, there are various options:
- At Château Pey La Tour and Château de Ricaud we use mechanical grape sorting machines, made up of a vibrating hopper and sifter, which separates the whole berries from any MOG and damaged fruit.
- At Château Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac, given the limited size of the vineyard, densimetric sorting is the preferred option. After sorting whole grapes and removing the stems by hand, the grapes are plunged in a sugar bath, where the density of the liquid varies according to the level of sorting required. Any undesirable MOG such as open, over-ripe berries or stalks, being lighter, floats to the surface and is removed. Whole berries are heavier and are carried by hopper towards a vibrating table for a last sort by hand.
- At Château Belgrave, Le Boscq, Reysson, La Garde and Rahoul, all larger vineyards, the grapes pass through an optical sorting machine, which is both rapid and efficient. After the stems are removed, the grapes are carefully spread in a single layer on a conveyer belt. They then pass through the optical sorter, where whole, intact berries are sorted by camera, according to their weight, and any undesirable materials are eliminated by pneumatic ejectors.
These sorting systems can be combined for even greater rigour in the selection process, ensuring only perfect grapes enter the tanks. The grapes may even undergo a final sorting by hand to eliminate any remaining MOG that may have escaped the machines.
Now, sorting accomplished, all that remains is to vinify the quality grapes, which is another story entirely. More to follow!