Last year I was there, harvesting in Rueda. In fact, I got to ride in a harvester myself! Under supervision, of course. What an adventure that was. Seeing up close how grapes were harvested at night.
From mid-August it was that time again. That time of year when the picturesque vineyards of the Rueda Denominación de Origen come alive with the sound of harvesting machines and the promise of exceptional wines.
Early Birds: Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay Take the Lead
At the head of the harvest are the Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay varieties, known for their shorter growing cycles and early ripening. These are harvested first.
Next comes Verdejo, around early September.
Harvest season 2023 had perfect conditions
Despite Mother Nature turning up the heat with a mid-harvest heat wave, the past few months have been mild in the Rueda area. Moderate temperatures prevailed, allowing the vineyards to maintain a perfect water balance. This balance has blessed the region with grapes in impeccable health, free of diseases caused by humidity. The result? Must and wines of unparalleled quality.
This season’s ripening conditions have surpassed the previous year, with a harmonious balance between acidity and alcohol content. This balance promises wines with more complexity, thanks to the delicious acidity, giving them the chance to make wines intended for aging – a treat for consumers.
Harvest 2023 D.O. Rueda
This harvest celebration includes as many as 1,576 passionate winemakers and 79 wineries, including the newcomer – the UVAS FELICES SL winery. The registered D.O. area covers an impressive 20,767 hectares, with nearly 98% devoted to white varieties. In the lead is Verdejo, which reigns over 88% of the total white grape estate in Rueda.
Behind the Scenes at C.R.D.O. Rueda
Quality is not just a buzzword in Rueda; it is a commitment. The C.R.D.O. Rueda provides both provenance and quality control. Their mission is to take samples, check ripening indices, inspect the origin of the grapes, check the yields per hectare of the vineyards and ensure that the health and quantity of each grape variety meets the strict regulations of the Control Board.
This year, a team of 20 assistants, along with the Control Board’s seven supervisors, ensured that only the cream of grapes find their way to the wineries.
Harvesting under the Stars: The Trademark of Rueda D.O.
Picture this: a vineyard lit by moonlight, you hear the humming of machinery and smell the scent of ripe grapes in the air. This is the magic of the nightly harvest in Rueda. This unique approach is not only for the romantic effect, it also has a profound effect on the quality of the wine.
During a night harvest one benefits from lower temperatures, this minimizes oxidation and preserves organoleptic properties in the grapes. It improves the delicate balance between alcohol content and acidity – an absolute gamechanger for making premium wines. And as a bonus, the grapes arrive at the winery at a lower temperature, resulting in significant energy savings.
In short, harvesting takes place in the dark night, but is visible through the powerful light of the machines. Because of this night harvesting, you get grapes of the highest quality, making D.O. Rueda the leader among Spanish white wines.
So, cheers to the 2023 Rueda D.O. grape harvest – a celebration of nature’s bounty and the beginning of a journey that will end in raised glasses and shared joy. The stage is set, the grapes are ripe and the excitement is palpable. Let the wine adventure begin! 🍇🌙🥂