“Vineyard and cellar – 1910” is a series of articles that we present to you throughout the year 2020, month by month. The articles are taken from the 1910 “Wine Trade Directory” and describe the various works necessary for the grapes and wine production at the beginning of the 20th century.
September in the vineyard
In 1910 in September, the work in the vineyard was marked by the last treatments and the start of the harvest
HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN READ IN SEPTEMBER IN THE WINE TRADE DIRECTORY FROM 1910
Cultivation and Processing – In the first fortnight, scraping the surface of the soil, to destroy weeds and to scald the surface of the soil; last stripping, without touching the leaves placed at the top of the buds. It will be necessary to hoe the nurseries.
During the second fortnight, after the harvest, carry out a final treatment in the South against mildew in order to promote the sharpening of the wood.
The harvest – September is the main harvest month for the entire Mediterranean coast, from Vaucluse to Roussillon, passing through Provence and the South. They begin around the middle of September in Beaujolais-Mâconnais and towards the end in wine-growing Languedoc, Gascony, Armagnac, Bordeaux, Charentes, Nantais, Anjou, Center-Nord, Champagne, Burgundy, Franche-Comté, Dauphiné.
The vigilant grower cannot take too much care in picking. The grape, good for harvesting, has a sweet taste, perfect coloring, and thin skin; the seed changes from green to brown, no longer contains glutinous matter; the peduncle of the bunch has become quasi-woody.
NOWADAYS IN SEPTEMBER
The harvest is earlier. In general, they start in August in southern regions such as Vaucluse, Provence, Corsica, Languedoc and Roussillon. This year 2020 is particularly early: for example, in Champagne, the northernmost vineyard in France, the harvest began on August 17 in the Aube and between August 20 and 24 in the Marne, which are unprecedented dates for the start of the harvest. In Beaujolais, it began on August 22, making 2020 the second earliest vintage after 2003 since the observatory was set up in 1992.
The harvest date is controlled by maturity controls. Indeed, the winegrowers base themselves on analyzes of the grapes and tasting of the berries in order to decide on the harvest of a plot. The sugar level of the grape berries must be high in order to give a consistent alcohol level to the future wine. The acidity level is also a factor monitored by the analyzes. Since veraison, the acidity decreases and the sugar increases; the curves of acidity and sugar intersect. Harvest when the grapes are fully ripe. Depending on the wine-growing regions and the types of wine, the potential alcohol levels at harvest are different and are governed by the specifications of the appellations. It is therefore necessary to harvest within a certain maturity window to respect the alcohol / acidity balance.
In some regions, winegrowers cannot harvest until the harvest ban has been declared. The harvest ban is an administrative authorization to harvest grapes. It is the occasion for many local festivities, the best known of which are those in Avignon at the very beginning of September and Saint-Emilion in mid-September.
Pictures 1 & 2 : ©Christophe Deschanel