The harvesting of grapes is by far the most prevalent visual picture conjured up in the mind of the public when discussing the process of winemaking. While is it the most popular and romanticized part of the entire wine making process, it is also ironically the shortest and quickest.
Grapes are harvested once a year and the approximate months for harvesting range based on the climate. In New Hampshire, the most common time for harvesting is sometime between September and October. Like many other fruits, the exact timing to pick our grapes is dependent on many factors including: general weather over the course of the entire season, specific forecast for a specific week or day, sugar and acidity levels of each specific variety of grape, mold, mildew or fungus issues and cluster health and longevity. All of these factors are considered for each different variety of grape, as each type grows slightly differently and has different inherent characteristics that we look for to make into the best wines.
Up until this year, we had one very important factor that we also had to consider: helping hands. With the largest vineyard in the state of New Hampshire it took many more hands than the Flag Hill staff had to give. For the last 17 years, hundreds of volunteers have helped Flag Hill harvest our vast vineyard, ensuring that our grapes could become the wine we all enjoy drinking. The exchange of labor for an afternoon of food, fun, games and prizes and a unique experience that most people can never claim to have done was a win-win for all. From the hard core patrons who returned year after year, to the novice beginners who graced the fields of Flag Hill to take on this endeavor, we will be forever grateful.
This year, 2012, begins a new adventure for Flag Hill and a first (as far as we have been able to ascertain) in the New England area. The harvesting of grapes this year (all but the Niagara) will be done by a machine harvester that is due to arrive this summer from the Niagara region of New York. The investment in a machine harvester is an investment in the quality of our wine. The one unfortunate downfall to relying on a Harvest Fest event to pick grapes was that the picking time frame had to be chosen a year in advance to accomodate our busy wedding schedule. Even further complicating the issue was that a specific date had to be planned at least 4 weeks in advance to allow enough time for volunteers to be alerted and plan the Harvest Day. The truth of the matter is that grapes sometimes have a very small window, ranging from a day to a very specific time of the day that they should be picked at their absolute peak of perfection. With our new approach to harvesting, we have the ability to make very decisive and quick plans to pull the grapes in at their best.
We anticipate having an event to celebrate the harvest and always embrace the opportunity to share our experiences and joys with our patrons. For those who have always been on our email newsletter list, you will receive any information regarding an event as usual. If you are interested in the potential of participating in a harvest event or any other exclusive Flag Hill event, we invite you to consider becoming a part of our email newsletter list.
Plans for our first Autumn Harvest Fair are underway. To potentially be a part, make sure you are on our email newsletter list.