Updated: Sep 13, 2020
You already know that we follow the schedule of the Northern Hemisphere at Apu Winery, but what does that mean for the grapes? In this blog, we will explore the growth cycle of the grapes at our high altitude winery and vineyards.
Because we are so close to the jungle, it never freezes in the Curahuasi Valley. That means our freshly cut vines aren't vulnerable to cold temperatures, allowing us to prune as early as December or January.
Bud break happens typically in March, when the daily temperature begins to exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This is when tiny buds swell and burst and the shoots begin to grow. Sometimes they can grow up to one inch per day.
Leafing begins in April. This phase is important because leaves provide food and air to help the vines stay healthy and grow. Through photosynthesis, leaves turn light energy into food. However, although leaves are important for the plant's growth, too many leaves can be detrimental. We remove some leaves after blooming but before veraison to:
Improve air circulation
Increase fungicide/insecticide spray penetration
Expose the fruit to more sunlight
Improve flavor compounds, color, and bud fertility
Decrease titratable acidity, pH, and potassium
Reduce herbaceous or vegetative aromas
In May, when temperatures stay between 59-68 degrees Fahrenheit, flowering begins. This is when small flower clusters appear on the tips of the young shoots, and the grapevine pollinates itself.
During fruit set, berries begin to form. This usually happens in June at Apu Winery. In this stage, the grape berries are small, green, and hard to the touch. The grapes have very little sugar but are high in organic acid.
Veraison occurs a month later in July. This is when the colors change on the berries due to cholorphyll in the berry skin being replaced by anthocyanins (red wine grapes) and carotenoids (white wine grapes). Red-wine grapes will turn from green to red or black and white-wine grapes will turn yellow or gold. The grapes also soften as they collect sugars and grow as they accumulate glucose and fructose.
Harvest occurs in August or September at Apu. It is very important to make precise decisions about when to harvest so the grapes have the right amount of sugar, acidity and tannins. Before harvesting, Fernando checks to make sure the Brix levels are between 24°-26° for red wine grapes and 22°-23° for our white wine grapes. He also checks the pH levels to make sure they are around 3.2-3.4. Determining when to harvest is an extremely important step in the production process.
So now you know what it means when we follow the schedule of the Northern Hemisphere! The grapes follow a very different, but strict schedule in to achieve an optimal growth cycle.