The harvest has started. A million kilos have already been picked in the vineyards further from the sea- that is the warmer áreas, where the grapes have ripened more quickly without the sea breezes and humidity to cool them. Harvesting began on Friday night with machines and floodlights. González Byass expect to start work in their own vineyards tomorrow, but have already done some harvesting in contracted vineyards.
Teams of people with harvesting knives toiling under the baking sun are nearly all gone now as the machines take over. They work at night as the grapes are cooler and less likely to oxidise and they work much quicker. The grapes have decent sugar levels, some reaching 12ᴼ Beaumé (a sugar level scale by which 12ᴼ Beaumé should equal 12%/vol alcohol in the must). The harvest will get under way generally tomorrow. The Consejo is hoping that each hectare of vineyard will yield 10,000 kilos which would give a harvest total of 70 million kilos. Last year 68 million were picked.
|Machine harvesting at night (foto:diariodejerez)|
Consejo director, César Saldaña, said that the weather this year had been very variable but that it had helped bring about healthy grapes without insect problems. The biggest enemy is persistent humidity which can set off grey rot and crops can be lost, but this has been a “magnificent” year. The growers are hoping to cash in on that: after a hard year’s work they are hoping to get 58-60 pesetas the kilo. The cooperative Nuestra Señora de las Angustias will also start picking tomorrow. All the “pies de cuba” have been started (small fermentations to get the main ones underway more easily).
The harvest should mostly be over by the end of the month, though there could be pockets close to the sea which will need to wait till the first few days of September, unless the Levante wind appears, something largely avoided this year – much to the gratitude of all.
One of the quieter events of the Fiestas de la Vendimia but no less important is the annual homage to William Shakespeare who did so much to publicise Sherry in his day. Enthusiasts meet at his memorial in Jerez, drink a toast and recite some of his works.