At Tabali, we are very excited as our favorite time of the year is approaching: harvest! As you may know, the process of harvesting grapes to make wine is long. The vine cycle is annual, beginning with winter pruning and ending with harvest in late summer and early fall.

The quality of the harvested grapes will depend on many factors. First, to have great wine, we must have a great terroir of origin, which the winegrower must take care of throughout the year: watering, pruning, handling the vineyard yields, and much more. Then in the cellar, the winemaker must make the right decisions regarding fermentation, storage, blends, among many other choices.

But there is one key factor: the time of harvest.

During veraison, the berries turn into their final color, they grow, raise their sweetness, and reduce their acidity. The grape ripening period is approaching. The entire viticultural and oenological team is waiting for the precise moment to harvest, visiting and walking through the vineyards, observing and tasting the grapes until they find the precise maturity they are looking for: the perfect balance between sugar and acidity. The harvest is the culminating stage of the entire cycle of the vine, and the decision of the moment of harvest is transcendental in the final result of the wine that will be obtained.

The harvest period for the southern hemisphere goes between the end of January and April. However, the exact time of harvest will depend on several factors that have to be evaluated by the team.

• Type of grape and variety: Generally, whites are harvested before reds.
• Type of Wine: The base wine for sparkling wines is usually the first to be picked, as high acidity levels are needed.
• The terroir of origin and its climate: the vineyard’s location will have powerful effects on the ripening of the grape. Whether it is a vineyard closer to the coast or higher up the mountains, it has sunny or cloudy weather, and even the vine’s geographical orientation will impact the right time of harvest. For example, in cooler climates like in the Talinay vineyard on the coast of Limari Valley, maturation will be slower than inland.

• Desired wine style: the winemaker can look for a wine with a greater or lesser degree of alcohol or freshness, which will be directly related to the sugar and acids in the berry. The winemaker also decides what type of aromatic profile he wants in his wine, determining the harvest time.
• Also, the yields of the vines and the production of each variety will define the precise moment of harvest. At a lower yield, the maturity of the grapes will be faster.

The viticultural and oenological team must be very attentive to the vineyard at harvest time. They walk through the vineyards, carefully observing, tasting, and studying the berries to decide when to harvest.

It is advisable to harvest the grapes in the coolest hours of the day or even at night to prevent the heat from starting unwanted fermentation. It is also important that the grapes are dry and not wet from dew or rain as water can influence the quality of the must. In addition, the grape must be transported to the winery, where it will be vinified as quickly as possible to avoid premature maceration or fermentation.
For the Tabali wines, we should expect to start our harvest 2022 by mid-February with the pick of our whites from the Talinay Vineyard in the coastal area of the Limarí Valley in northern Chile. The team plans to harvest Talinay Chardonnay first and then Talinay Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noir from this vineyard is also harvested quite early. Even if it is a red grape that comes from a coastal location, it is collected soon as these vines have low yields, which helps them mature a bit faster. This is the right time to harvest to get the freshness and vibrancy that the winemaking team wants in wines like Talinay Pai and Talinay Pinot Noir.
Malbec coming from Rio Hurtado is another red that’s harvested quite early by mid-February, given its low yields and the fresh style of wine the winemaker is looking for in Roca Madre. The early pick of the grapes has a great impact on the vibrancy of this malbec that comes from the heights of the Andes Mountains. Almost two weeks later, by the beginning of March, the Tabali team plans to collect the grapes from Barranco Viognier, which also comes from the Rio Hurtado vineyard.
Then, by mid-march Tabali will be harvesting red wines coming from Espinal and Tabali vineyards, like Vetas Blancas Syrah and Pedregoso Merlot. These vineyards have a softer coastal influence from the Pacific Ocean.
Malbec from the coastal Talinay Vineyard for Talinay Litico will also be collected by mid-march, and a little later, by the third week of the month, the team plans to harvest Syrah from this same vineyard for Payen.
Then, it’s the turn for the reds coming from central Chile. First, Cabernet Sauvignon from DOM Vineyard in the Maipo Valley will be harvested by the end of March. Starting April, we will be harvesting Carmenere from old vineyards in the Cachapoal Valley for Micas Carmenere.
To finish our harvest season, we will be collecting Cabernet Franc and Malbec from Talinay and Espinal vineyards for our Vetas Blancas Cabernet Franc and Vetas Blancas blend of Malbec and Cabernet Franc.
The harvest is our favorite time of the year when we see the fruit of the whole year’s work and give life to our wines of each vintage! Cheers!