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Late harvest grapes

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stefansjs

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Ok, so I didn't actually know what I was signing up for. I called a farm nearby and scheduled to harvest grapes today not exactly realizing that these vines were ready about a month ago, maybe longer. I ended up with a lot of shriveled raisins. The grower told me that they can be added to the must to increase the "brix level". Is that true? How do you use late harvest grapes? Was I a victim of a very labor-intensive bad purchase?
 

thehaze

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Late harvested grapes will contain less water and more sugar, so the amount of fructose is higher. This is not a bad thing. You can still press the juice/must out of them and use it. You will probably be a bit short on liquid volume - or just be prepared for a slightly higher ABV.

As for your last question: I don't think you were a victim of any bad purchase. I would argue that seeing that you were the one wanting the grapes, there must have been some expectations from the farm owner, as to your minimal knowledge on harvest time. I am not trying to be mean or anything - I just think assumptions were made by both parts, hence the resulting situation.

I still think the grapes you harvested will be good, if not very good.
 

madscientist451

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I don't think you are a victim at all. When you inspected the grapes, you could have said "no thanks", but you went ahead with the purchase, so now you can see how the wine comes out.
What variety of grapes and how much did they charge?
 
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stefansjs

stefansjs

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Thanks for the encouragement folks!

You can still press the juice/must out of them and use it
Should I be expecting to add water to get the sugar out of the dried bits? I'm a little worried that I don't have enough juicy grapes to get everything out of the dried ones.

there must have been some expectations from the farm owner, as to your minimal knowledge on harvest time
No offense taken at all. I'm definitely ignorant here and just trying to figure it out. I'm definitely going to know more about making wine for next year 😁

What variety of grapes and how much did they charge?
$1/lb for zinfandel grapes off 15 year old vines (no idea if that's old or young). Seems like a lot of people are offering that price for a "you pick" arrangement. Much cheaper than any other options that I saw.
 

thehaze

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15 years old is not old. My grandparents had smaller vineyards ( between a quarter and half a hectar ) and they had vines that were 25 years old. Sure, it depends on grape variety, so probably some will last longer. Make sure to sort your grapes out: throw away moldy, completely dried out grapes, as they will not provide must ( although the dried out ones along with the green stuff can add some complexity if you age beer/wine on it ). Keep all those that still have juice in them. Appearance is not that important - so don't be afraid of the wrinkly ones - you are interested in whatever must they are holding, even if not as much as harvest-ready grapes.

Should I be expecting to add water to get the sugar out of the dried bits? I'm a little worried that I don't have enough juicy grapes to get everything out of the dried ones.

I don't think you need to do that. Just sort the grapes and press together.
 
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stefansjs

stefansjs

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Well the update is that I got a lot less must out of it then I was expecting, but this is my first time so I'm still calibration my expectations. The initial measurement is 39.2°Brix! Some places I read suggested that 35 is pretty normal for zinfandel and others said you should target much lower, so I'm not sure yet if I'll dilute it, but I'm pretty hopeful that they're good grapes!

Thanks everybody for the wisdom!
 

Syke

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39 brix is off the chart! Depending on the yeast you're using and how sweet you want the finished product, target more around 25 brix.
 
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stefansjs

stefansjs

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Lol, I mistyped. It's 29.2° which is a lot more reasonable sounding.
 
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