Harvest is now complete and the grapes are safely in the cellar being turned into wine. This post is long, long overdue, but that just reflects the demanding nature of viticulture. Harvest is a very demanding time of year (seems like I say that about every phase of grape growing) because of the delicate balance between the ripening grapes and the weather. I grow four different varietals and they all ripen at different times during the fall. This requires that you be ready to harvest them on the exact date that they are ready. The problem this presents here in the Northeast United States is that it is by no means an exact science. Each year different weather factors and growing conditions effect the life cycle of that particular year's crop. For example, the weather in the month of April will determine when budbreak will occur. Warmer weather will cause buds to break sooner while cooler weather means a later budbreak. Each variety has a required number of "growing days" to harvest. My varieties; Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Regent and Marechal Foch range from approximately 150 to 180 growing days to harvest. Of course, the weather can have a huge impact on those numbers. Especially does the fall weather influence grape ripening and quality. The more warm sunny weather you get in September and early October, the better quality your grapes will be. My previous post expands on this subject. I'm happy to report that this year's harvest was the best in the 8 year history of my vineyard! I will compose four posts to follow that will highlight the harvest details of each of my four varietals. But let's just say that I have super high hopes for the 2007 vintage wines. Depending on how the wine making process goes, I may even enter some of them into some amateur wine making competitions. That's a big step for me, one I have yet to take after 15 years of winemaking and 8 years of grape growing.