Winemaking is a year-round endeavor, but it’s the fall grape harvest season that many consider the best time to celebrate the art through events and fall festivals. Each August through October, Napa Valley welcomes thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the excitement and rush of harvest. From small lot wines to pioneering great estates, there’s plenty to see, learn, and, of course, drink during a harvest getaway.

End of Summer Marks the Start of Harvest

While disruptive power outages and devastating fires beset 2020’s harvest, the Valley’s winemakers are optimistic this year, with promises of excellent fruit quality and plenty of concentration.

Did you know about two and a half pounds of grapes go into making a bottle of wine? If you’re planning a trip to Napa to enjoy the fall festivities, here are 5 more fun facts about harvest you might not have known.

  1. How do winemakers know the grapes are ripe? They taste them to see if the sugar, acid, and tannin are in balance. A little science goes into the process, too, with lab tests checking for ripeness in grape skins and seeds.
  2. Grapes used for sparkling wines are picked first, typically in early August. Then it’s on to whites and reds, which take the longest to reach full maturation. The harvesting of Napa Valley’s Cabernet Sauvignon grapes begins the latest and can run into early November.
  3. Winery crush pads are stone, concrete, or otherwise paved areas where much of the hard work of making wine happens. Equipment here includes de-stemmers, picking and fermenting bins, punch down tools, sorting tables, and more.
  4. Though some of the work is automated, harvest workers still sort grapes by hand, removing twigs, leaves, bugs, and unripe or damaged fruit.
  5. A late harvest wine is one made from grapes that have been left on the vine past their peak ripeness. This method results in a sweeter wine that’s typically served cold in small dessert wine glasses.

Plan Your Napa Valley Harvest Trip

Many Napa wineries have special harvest events going on during the season. If you’re headed to the Valley to see the harvest in action, we hope you’ll make a visit to Strala a part of your plans. Between the special celebrations and winemaking activities, you can enjoy learning about the handcrafted napa wine we’re known and celebrated for. We would love to share with you our passion for winemaking. Located on the Brasswood Estate in St. Helena, we’re open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

Happy Harvest, everyone!