Wine 101

Northern Hemisphere Harvest and Exclusive Wine Bundles from the Coravin Wine Shop

August 26, 2022

Written By Coravin

In the Northern Hemisphere, grapes are harvested between late August and October. In the Southern Hemisphere, harvest happens between February and April. To celebrate the Northern Hemisphere harvest, we’ve put together a couple of very special Harvest Bundles on the Coravin Wine Shop. Before we get into the wines and what makes them special, learn a little more about wine harvest on the northern half of the planet. 

Which wine regions are in the Northern Hemisphere?

Any grape grown north of the equator is a Northern Hemisphere grape. This includes major wine regions like Italy, France, the United States, and Spain. Southern Hemisphere regions include Australia, Argentina, South Africa, and Chile. The biggest distinction between Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere wines of the same varietal comes from the soil. Other factors like terroir, weather, and winemaking skills also contribute to the taste profile and quality of the final product. 

When are different grapes harvested?

Grapes like Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay are harvested in the earlier months of fall harvest. Somewhere in the middle of September, most vineyards will begin harvesting grapes like Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Merlot, and Syrah. One of the last grapes to be harvested is Cabernet Sauvignon. 

There are more nuances to this harvest schedule. Here are some harvest facts from our resident sommelier:

  • Early harvest: White grapes are generally harvested earlier because they ripen earlier. 

  • Later harvest: The more tannin a red wine has, the longer it generally takes to ripen.

  • Alcohol and acidity: The longer grapes hang on the vine, the higher the alcohol and the lower the acidity will be. That means, if a winemaker wants to make a full-bodied Napa Cabernet Sauvignon with lower acidity, it stays on the vine longer. To make a food-friendly wine that is lower in alcohol, with less tannin it’s harvested sooner.

  • Flavor: Like a peach or a pear, flavors develop when grapes spens more time on the vine. For example, if harvested early, Pinot Noir will taste like cranberries. Pinot Noir that spends more time on the vine will taste of cherries and plums.

Pinot Noir Grapes

How are wine grapes harvested? 

In this day and age, grapes aren’t often harvested by hand – mechanical harvesting is being used by most wineries across the world. Of course, mechanical harvesting has its drawbacks. Most notably, a machine can’t be as selective as a human hand and mechanical harvesters can often break grape skins or the vines themselves. On the plus side, a mechanical harvester can pick up to 300 tons of grapes in an 8-hour workday compared to 2 tons by a hand harvester according to The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil. This speed is critical if bad weather – or cold weather – is afoot.  

White Wine Harvest Bundle

2016 Hertelendy Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay Russian River Valley

Try this California Chardonnay, a rich and stunning expression of the grape. Malolactic fermentation gives this wine a pale straw color and smooth mouthfeel. On the nose you get notes of coconut and honeysuckle, then on the palate it's beautifully balanced with bright acidity and a very long finish. Great paired with scallops and soft cheeses. If you love this, get excited for the 2022 vintage. The Ralph Hertelendy, founder and vintner at Hertelendy Vineyards shared, "So far, so good. I anticipate that this vintage will be stellar if all goes as planned." But, superstitions kept Hertelendy from sharing too much more.

2019 Duckhorn Migration Chardonnay Sonoma Coast

This beautifully aromatic Chardonnay also from California offers alluring aromas of Fuji apple, peach, and lemon custard, as well as French oak-inspired hints of graham cracker, vanilla, and sweet baking spices. On the palate, a bright and energetic acidity adds to the poise and purity of the citrus and orchard fruit flavors. The texture is creamy and rich with a long, supple finish.

2018 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay Napa Valley

This gorgeous Chardonnay opens with fresh, citrus aromas of Meyer lemon and lime followed by juicy, ripe peach, with underlying notes of honeysuckle, herbs, and vanilla. The 2018 vintage showed above average natural acids in the wines which, along with lower sugar levels, make the 2018 vintage white wines exceptionally fresh and vibrant.

As for the coming 2022 vintage, winemaker Ivo Jeramaz shared, "We are now in our third year of drought. While we got 70% of normal rainfall, 80% of that happened by December 31, 2021 – none fell during the growing season, which is why it is still considered a drought." Jeramaz added. "The vigor of plants was moderate but we had a very even season with no heat spikes so far. Expectations for the start of harvest is end of August for our Sauvignon Blanc and start of September for our Chardonnay.  We are still expecting lower than average yields due to drought.”

2018 Le Artishasic Vin Clair Cuvée No. 1

This deceptively complex medium-bodied white blend made of Albariño, Arneis, Tocai Friulano, and Chardonnay has aromas of vanilla and honeysuckle. On the palate, flavors like peach, pear, nectarine, and green apple continually reveal themselves as you sip.

When we asked how this year's vintage is looking, winemaker Artie Johnson shared, "This year has been quite moderate in temperature with a lack of heat spikes, shaping up to be a spectacular vintage for a little extra hang time in the white grapes." Johnson also gave us a quick lesson on harvesting Chardonnay. He said, "When picking Chardonnay and other white varieties in California, it is important to track the pH and levels of acidity in the grapes leading up to harvest. As pH starts to rise and acidity starts to drop, you run the risk of losing your perception of freshness and brightness in the finished wines."

Red Wine Harvest Bundle

2018 Hirsch San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir

With over 39 years of farming and winemaking experience, David Hirsch's accumulated wisdom has shown wine lovers exactly what makes Hirsch wines so special: The San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas Fault lies just half a mile from the Hirsch Vineyard and this 2018 Pinot Noir there captures the complexity, power, and energy of this geologic phenomenon perfectly – it's the wine that David calls "the Hirsch Hirsch."

The 2018 San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir has fruit from 45 distinct farming blocks. It is the flagship wine from Hirsch and the wine that best represents the vineyard.

2018 Duckhorn Merlot Napa Valley

Cofounded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976, the iconic Duckhorn Vineyards has spent 40 years establishing itself as one of North America’s premier producers of Napa Valley wines. This 2018 Merlot has aromas of ripe cherry and black raspberry, sweet and dusty tannins, and supple texture. The first sip reveals luxurious flavors of black plum, rhubarb crumble, and chocolate-covered raspberry, plus hints of graphite and clove on the long, vibrant finish. Most Merlot (82%) with 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.4% Cabernet Franc, 0.4% Petit Verdot, and 0.2% Malbec.

2018 Booker Syrah Fracture

Often described as a Booker flagship, Fracture is one of the world’s great Syrahs. Only the softest Syrah in barrel makes the cut for this dense and powerful wine. The namesake pays homage to the calcareous soil in Booker's vineyard caused by limestone content. Deep and mysterious at first sight, the 2018 vintage is rich and velvety on your palate with an interesting balance of earth and fruit. Taste sweet beets, dark plums, and chocolate and enjoy this silky wine with almost any food – the Booker team recommends salty popcorn or Dutch Gouda cheese with some black truffle mustard.

2018 Martinelli Vigneto di Evo Zinfandel

On the nose, this wine is energetic – aromas of wild strawberry, sweet leather, and star anise delight. The palate has balanced acidity and elegant tannins with layers of chocolate  and black cherry. The winemaker notes say, "The 2018 season was much calmer than 2017, due to the absence of extra rain and heat spikes we experienced in 2017. The moderate temperatures in the spring and summer allowed for a longer growing season and full flavor development. There was plenty of water in the soil to carry the clusters through the long growing season with minimal dehydration." Lucky for wine lovers, that full flavor development really shines through in the 2018 vintage.

Taste through these amazing Chardonnays and reds in our Harvest Bundles on the Coravin Wine Shop and stay tuned to see if the vintages being harvested now live up to the winemakers' expectations. Use Coravin Timeless to compare one Chardonnay to another or simply enjoy each bottle slowly over time.