H-CENTRAL COAST

Sep 11, 2013 7:38 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Vineyards begin night harvests

Wine growers are heading into the fields for crush season, warm daytime temperatures have led many growers to do most of their harvesting at night.

Every year around this time, Doug Filipponi's days get shorter and his nights get a little longer. That's because he says it's crucial to get as many grapes off the vines in the early morning hours.

"If you start picking in the middle of the day and the temperatures get too high, the fruit conceivably could start fermenting before you want it to," said Filipponi, of Margarita Vineyards.

That bad fruit can spoil a great year of growth.

"We're seeing basically the same amount of fruit that we had last year," said Filipponi.

In 2012, the wine industry saw production yields increase by 31%, setting a record of more than $197 million in revenue.

By the end of the night, the tractors at Margarita Vineyards will shake more than 80 tons of grapes from the vines.

"A brisk shake and the berries just drop. They fall down onto little conveyors, the conveyors pick them up. There's fans that pull the leaves off," explained Filipponi.

The grapes then head to bins where they'll be taken to the winery to cold soak for about two weeks.

"In the middle of the night, when you're out here picking, as temperatures drop, the grapes firm up and they actually pick better. Instead of losing the whole cluster coming off, we just get the grapes and the juice and that's what we're really after," Filipponi said.

Every ton of grapes produced in one vineyard makes up to 60 cases of wine.

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