maintaing vineyards at night - Printable Version

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- slnicholls - 02-17-1999 10:51 PM

I would like to know if the quality of vineyard grapes would be enhanced if all treating, trimming and maintaing operations performed on vines were carried out at night. I ask this because it has always been my understanding that that treating any form of flora in the heat of day is detrimental to that plant's well being.

- Jason - 02-18-1999 09:17 AM

I have not heard about maintaining, but certainly harvesting. RH Phillips winery in Dunnigan Hills has several night harvest wines that are labeled as such.They can be reached at if interested.

- Thomas - 02-18-1999 10:05 AM

An interesting question, and one that could use scientific studying, if it hasn't already been done. It is true enough with other plants. For instance, watering certain plants at mid day could actually harm leaves when the sun beats down on the water, almost boiling it on the leaves.

With regard to such matters as spraying for pests and fungi, daytime work is likely preferable so that the spray material would not only dry quickly but would set better by not encountering nightime or morning dew.

It would also be extremely difficult to perfomr certain functions at night, like tying canes, but then, this is not an intrusive function that relies on anything flowing inside the plant.

- Jerry D Mead - 02-18-1999 02:27 PM

Night harvesting has been going on for a very long time...I believe it was first done in Monterey County by Richard Smith (now owner of Paraiso Springs) on contract for Mirassou.


- Dick Peterson - 02-18-1999 04:52 PM

Almost nothing in the way of farming vines could be done better at night than in daylight. It simply isn't true that many vineyard practices are easier on the vines when done at night. Irrigation and getting leaves or fruit wet isn't a factor because virtually nobody uses sprinkler irrigation any more. Drip takes much less water and it irrigates only the vines without helping the weeds between rows.

Harvesting at night is an exception only because the fruit temperature is cooler at night. Night harvesting allows the grower to haul the grapes much farther without lowering the grape (wine) quality. When the fruit arrives at the winery, it's already cold and the winery saves refrigeration expense. Most important, the fruit doesn't start "wild fermentations" during the haul to the winery and things like flavor and color aren't downgraded by field heat and wild yeast and bacteria growing on the grapes and juice on the way to the winery.

Monterey county growers were the first to use night harvesting on any grand scale. It was because Monterey was almost 100% planted FOR machine harvesting when the vines were first planted there in the early 1970s. Areas where grapes had been grown for years (Napa, Sonoma, Central Valley, etc) were planted long before mechanical harvesting became practical and, so, vine and row spacing was often incompatible with mechanical harvesting. This was corrected only when the vineyards were re-planted in the normal course of events. Around 1976 or 77, I wrote a piece on the virtues of mechanical harvesting of wine grapes when I was making wine in Monterey County and pointed most of these things out. It was called, "Tell me what time you picked and I'll tell you whether your wine is any good."

The fact is, night harvesting was started in Monterey not to improve wine quality but in an effort to get more use out of those &%$#! expensive harvesters. Working longer hours, well into the night solved that problem. It was only after we winemakers discovered the obvious fruit temperature and wine quality advantages that we pushed growers for night harvesting all the time. Today, nearly all maching harvesting starts only an hour or two before midnight and runs until about noon, or until the day gets hot. Then, machine maintenance is done in the afternoon and harvesting starts again at night. Hope this info is helpful. Dick Peterson