Since the end of harvest is upon us we decided this week to define some of the most commonly used terms during this busy time of year. Below is a collection of words often thrown around during harvest season.
Brix: The term is used to measure the amount of sugar in wine. You may have noticed this term in winemaker notes, or on the labels of some wines, saying grapes used were harvested at (insert number here)-degree Brix. Winemakers care about the degree Brix of grapes because they want to harvest the crop when the fruit is at its peak — the sugars are in balance with the acids. Knowing the sugar levels of a grape helps the winemaker during the fermentation process (remember yeast eats sugar, which makes alcohol).
Crush: This is the term used to describe what happens after the grapes are picked, when they make their way back to the wineries and volunteers and employees get to work “crushing” the grapes and turning the fruit into juice which is later fermented into wine.
De-stemmer: this is the machine that does the crushing of the grapes, releasing the juice while separating the fruit from the grape stems.
Harvest: While technically the term used for the process of picking the grapes from the vine, harvest also translates to vintage. The year the grapes are harvested is the vintage of the wine — for example a red wine with 2007 on the label means the grapes were picked and crushed in 2007. If there’s no vintage on a label then it means the contents of the bottle are made up of wines harvested from different years.
Lugs: This is the term used to describe the large containers, or vats, that hold the grapes after they’re cut from the vine. The grapes are then transported to the winery for crushing.
pH: Knowing the pH of a grape is very important to winemaking. That’s because it’s the measurement used to determine the strength of acidity in a wine. Typically most wines have a pH balance ranging from 2.9 to 3.9. Wines with a lower pH tend to have higher acidity.
Pomace:This is the solid remains of grapes after they are pressed. It contains the skins, pulp, seeds and any stems that made it through the de-stemmer. Often winemakers will use these leftovers as fertilizer, or pass it along to a farmer for the same use if they don’t plan to use it on their property.