OVER 30% of all the grapes picked in Jerez’s wine harvest are being picked at night.
The local vineyards have had to resort to the nocturnal practice to avoid the worse of the seasonal heat.
As well as improving the wine, the job is considerably easier for the workforce.
“It was not easy convincing people,” admits Willy Pérez, an enologist who also runs the Luis Pérez bodega that his father established in 2003.
He discovered night harvesting when he was working in a winery in Australia and realised that the practice would work as well in his native Jerez.
First introduced in 2008, initially workers and fellow producers were sceptical.
“At first, people didn’t want to do it because they said they couldn’t see and were afraid of cutting themselves”.
Gradually, however, the workers were won over.
“The main beneficiaries are the pickers: they feel more comfortable and they work better,” he says.
“And with the coolness, the grape is firmer and easier to transfer to the presses, while the de-stemming process is better as well.
“The first fermentation takes place at 15ºC, and it is more efficient and easier to lower the temperature from 19ºC at night than from 30ºC in the daytime”.
Many other vineyards are following suite, while the process of mechanical harvesting is also spreading in Jerez.