When is the right time to harvest? Ultimately, the quality of the wine depends on this. The type of grape is crucial, because the bloom and maturity can vary for each sort.
The grape harvest is tough work. It generally begins in mid-September with the early varieties of Rivaner or Müller-Thurgau. This is followed first of all by the Dornfelder vine, then the Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris and, finally, the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines. Completion of the grape harvest marks the start of the Riesling harvest. Due to the multitude of grape varieties, the grape harvest takes several months.
A real science in its own right and a factor not to be underestimated: the weather. It ensures that no vintage is the same. If the Autumn is dry and sunny, the wine-growers can wait longer before harvesting. The fruits will then be able to ripen even more and the quality will improve. However, if it rains very often, the grapes decay more easily and the grape harvest has to be brought forward.
When the perfect harvesting time has arrived, there are two harvest possibilities: During traditional, manual grape harvesting, the harvest worker cuts off the grapes by hand and places them in a container that will later be transported to the wine cellars. This painstaking harvest gives the best possible result: rotten grapes can be directly removed and individual grapes that are not yet ripe remain on the vine. On the other hand, during mechanical harvesting, a so-called harvester is used, which is moved over the vine rows. Of course, these harvest machines enable a fast pace, and the wine-growers can react well to weather changes and, when required, initiate a quicker harvest.
If you ask a wine-grower directly, he will of course have infinitely more to report about the grave harvest. However, the best thing to do would be to simply travel to the vineyards in the autumn and see the situation for yourself. Lots of wineries offer a peek behind the scenes, a grape harvesting workshop or an extensive wine tasting session.