Diary of the grape harvest
door: Hans Topf, wijnbouwer in Oostenrijk!
Vorig jaar ontdekte ik op de MegaVino met gastland Oostenrijk het Weingut Johann Topf uit Strass, dat ten noordwesten van Wenen ligt. Hans Topf – de huidige winzer hield dit jaar tijdens de oogst een dagboek bij wat wij van hem op het onlline wijnmagazine Smaak van Wijn mochten publiceren. Gewoon zoals het is!
19.09. – 21.09.13
This year we´ll not start the harvest with the vineyard Blickenweg as usual. The first grapes this year are the Zweigelt grapes for the “Weisser”.
The ripeness of these grapes is optimal for a fruity and elegant wine!
The excitement is noticable, until the first must is leaving the press!
Today our vineyard stuff had a relaxing day. Everybody has enjoyed the sun being back. My winemaker and I didn’t have much daylight today. The pressed “Weisser” was brought into the fermentation tanks, the press and the press house were cleaned.
23.09. and 24.09
Today we started in marvelous weather in the vineyard Blickenweg, the stuff is in a good mood. The grapes for the “Gemischter Satz” are a great joy to us, the must reading is 17,5 KMW.
25.09. and 26.09
Today we started in the vineyards Wechselberg Spiegel and Heiligenstein. We removed the leaves in the zone of grapes and also removed bruised grapes. Only 6 to 8 grapes remain on the vine. It’s a job, where feeling for the vine is needed – and Hans Topf sen. at the age of 83 insists on helping.
The grapes are brought into the cellar, are sorted and then carefully pressed. This is an important part of our Riesling Strassertal.
Today we paused harvesting, our vineyard staff is out in the vineyards to remove the leaves in the grape zone. In the vineyards where Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon grow.
28.09 and 29.09
The vineyard staff enjoys the weekend and in the cellar we are busy with cleaning and checking the fermentation.
It’s my job to drive through the vineyards with my dog Chris every day for tasting the grapes, determining the gradation and to fix the proper time for harvesting.
30.09 and 01.10
Today is the day of the „virgin picking“. In the vineyards Gaisberg, Rosengartl, Steinbühel, Hasel and Eichberg are 4 years old vineyards, which yield grapes the first time. We want to harvest early to preserve the vines, their roots are not deep-seated in the soil.
Due to the small crop of these young vineyards, the must reading is about 19,5 KMW, we press them gently and will vinify them separately.
02.10. – 05.10.
We tremble with fear every day to escape the frosts. The vintners are known for their discontent concerning the weather, of course, we’d like to have a long sunny autumn till the end of November!
For us it’s very important, that the leaves remain as long as possible on the vines, so a physiogical ripeness can be achieved. During the last nights, we had temperatures below zero, but the leaves were able to withstand these frosts.
We split our vineyard team: Adolf and his team are busy with harvesting the Zweigelt grapes for the Zweigelt Strassertal, the grapes are wonderful and healthy, the must reading is about 18 KMW.
Anton and his team go in for the Grüner Veltliner grapes in the vineyards Stangl, Absdorferin, Point and Placher, the must reading of these grapes is also about 17 to 18 dregrees KMW.
In the cellar, the fermentation of the Weisser Zweigelt is fading. The staff is busy until the evening hours with pressing and to bring the mash of the red grapes into the fermentation tanks.
Our son, Hans Peter, who doesn’t want to miss out on the harvest, supports us actively during his holidays.
We’ve had a very intense week, and despite of that, another Sunday we have to do our work in the cellar.
We press the Grüner Veltliner grapes for the Grüner Veltliner Strassertal and put the rubbed Zweigelt grapes into the fermentation tanks.
07.10. – 11.10.
We brave the weather forecast , and against all prophecies of rain and frost – we went through with sunshine and we pick the grapes for Grüner Veltliner Strasertal and Grüner Veltliner green with a big team.
The weather is perfect, beautiful autumnal days, cold nights (but no frost), in the early morning it’s cool and dry and during the day it’s warm, but not to hot for harvesting – as if we had requested it!
12.10. and 13.10
The Friday afternoon was spoiled by rain, so our vineyard staff had a recreative weekend.
For the team in the cellar, Staszek, Stefan and me, it was completely different, because we had to press the Zweigelt Strassertal. After pressing the mash, we fill the must into the tanks, where the second fermentation is initiated at a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.
14.10 and 15.10
Today we start the harvest in the vineyard Sental with the Gelber Muskateller. It was worth waiting for, the must reading of the grapes is about 17 degrees KMW. Highly welcome is the fact, that the acidity has reduced by one third.
Today, Tuesday, we finish harvesting the Zweigelt grapes. In the vineyard Sachsenberg we made a first selection on Sept. 20th.
Few grapes remained on the vines, and they are in a very good condition. The must reading is about 19,5 degrees KMW.
After being destemmed and crushed, the mash falls into the fermentation tanks and is being heated slightly, so that the fermentation starts quickly.
On Tuesday we worked far into the night to handle the Pinot noir. The must reading of the grapes was about 20 degrees KMW, it was really great!
Today we proceed with the Stangl, we harvest Riesling for the Riesling Strassertal.
Autumn is here, the temperatures drop – it’s very important, that the weather is dry and no frost occurs.
These days we devote ourselves to the Riesling Strassertal – in the vineyards Placher, Reith and Stangl.
Today we start with the Grüner Veltliner in the vineyard Wechselberg. This autumn weather we have at the moment, is really rare. The grapes are healthy, not affected by botrytis, spicy, and show also a perfect harmony of sugar and acidity. By tasting the first wines, we can draw conclusions on the really gorgeous vintage 2013.
On Sunday we pause harvesting, but we must handle the must in the cellar. We put the must into the fermentation tanks. Some wines are ready with the fermentation, machines and tanks have to be cleaned.
During the harvest, we have no weekend off. The weather is keeping up and we harvest the grapes in the vineyard Wechselberg. The grapes are healthy, the must weight is about 20 degrees KMW and the acidity is ideal. The intense foliage treatment during the summer and the high leaf walls turn to account. The frost didn’t harm the leaves and they are surprisingly chartreuse and healthy.
We select the grapes in the vineyard very strictly. The grapes affected by botrytis are cut out carefully and are separated from the healthy ones. We put them in the presses separately and they undergo a fermentation for about 4 hours to develop the aroma of the wine.
In the cellar we work every day until late in the evening. Staszek and Stefan give maximum performance, always a smile on the face and proud of the high quality of this vintage!
We have not finished picking the grapes in the vineyard Hasel, but today we’ll succeed.
30 wiling hands cut, select and try the sweet Chardonnay grapes. This kind of work is exhausting. As can be seen, Anton doing his favorite occupation – an after-lunch nap.
Today we press the red wine for the last time. Blauburgunder Stangl has finished the fermentation. After having been pressed, we put it in the 2500-lt-barrels, which we heat to 18 degrees Celsius to start the second fermentation.
Today we move to the vineyard Hasel to harvest the Chardonnay. We can pick golden yellow grapes, not affected by botrytis, with a must weight about 21 degrees KMW. The preparations in the cellar are taken! Our Chardonnay undergoes the fermentation and the second fermentation in new 600-lt-barrels.
Today we finished the harvest of Grüner Veltliner Wechselberg. It was only possible by encouraging our team to harvest until nightfall. The new barrels for the Chardonnay have arrived. They are flushed with clean water and checked for leak tightness.
25. – 27.10
The vineyard staff looks forward to a well-deserved long weekend. Nevertheless Staschek and Stefan are again in the cellar in the morning to check the barrels we filled.
I’m on the way to the Rheingau and will pick up Maximilian, who has completed his practical training in the winery of Gunter Künstler, a friend of mine.
Sunday: free time!
Today it’s foggy, but the grapes are dry. Again we start in the vineyard Hasel, where we harvest the Sauvignon blanc. The time has come to do this!
The must weight raises, we measured about 23 degrees KMW. We’ll see, if there will be another Non Plus Ultra this year. The grapes are crushed carefully and fermented for 6 hours.
In the cellar, we fill the new barrels with the Chardonnay and separate the Grüner Veltliner Strassertal from the yeast.
28.10. and 29.10
The weather forecast augurs badly! There will be a change in the weather pattern , prompt action is needed. We start in the vineyard Wechselberg Spiegel, all two cellarmasters are also in the vineyard, because we want to finish before it starts raining.
About 10% of the grapes are affected by botrytis, the must weight is about 21 degrees KMW.
At 1 p.m. we just managed it, after a short rest we continue in the vineyard Offenberg. With a big team and without having breaks, the Offenberg is done at 5.30. p.m.
The Riesling grapes are left in the presses for about 3 hours for fermentation, the Grüner Veltliner Offenberg is crushed and immediately pressed. Tired, but proud of our performance today, we raised a toast with a good glass of wine.
Not only the vineyard staff is out, even Daniela and Viktoria are busy with harvesting today. Every helping hand is needed to finish the harvest. We start in the Zöbinger Heiligenstein to harvest the Riesling. The weather is dry, we start in a good mood.
Just as in the vineyard Wechselberg Spiegel, the harvest is progressing well because of preharvesting. The must reading is about 20,5 degrees KMW, the grapes are not affected by botrytis. The stems are very friable, we have to be very carefully. At 2 p.m. we have a short rest, a quick lunch in the vineyard. Everybody thinks about finishing the harvest and moving to the vineyard Gaisberg.
And the weather is keeping up – the staff and the tractors move to the Gaisberg, the workers don’t talk or joke as usually, everybody is harvesting nimbly, the forthcoming end of the harvest in his mind.
At 5 p.m. it’s done! Before checking the must reading – we all toast with a glass of Grüner Veltliner Gaisberg 2012.
I want to say thank you to my workers, during seven weeks their performance was great, but the last two days they really did a great job!
The Riesling Heiligenstein has been fermented since 1 p.m. and in the evening it is pressed. We crush the Veltliner Gaisberg, which will be pressed immediately. We turn down the lights in the cellar and today the cellar staff takes the dinner together with the vineyard staff for the first time during the harvest 2013.