in the spirit

Right about now, as we start to experience a little cooler temperatures at night and that touch of crisp air that tells us Autumn is marching steadily toward us, in vineyards all across the northern hemisphere, vineyard hands are working feverishly collecting bunches of grapes off the vines under the dutiful watch and organization of vineyard managers who are closely monitoring the weather forecasts ever fearful of spikes in the daytime temperatures and the threat of those all-too-familiar September rains. Many consumers don’t realize just how important harvest time is for a winery and how, without exaggeration, the difference between a good wine and a poor one, or especially a great wine and a mediocre one, might well be determined right now. I thought it might be fun and interesting for many wine drinkers to outline a few points about how crucially important this time of year can be for the wines we drink and love.

Front Porch Lewisburg WV

Essentially, there are three MAJOR concerns for wineries when it comes to getting their crops off the vines and into the winery: heat and/or sunshine, oxidation, and rain. Add to this that they are trying to get the best possible fruit into the winery and that means fruit that is at the optimum level of ripeness as well. This means their timing must be carefully thought-out as they hang their grapes as long as they can while keeping an ever-watchful eye on the forecast. All of this often amounts to a highly choreographed dance which causes a lot of gray hairs to form and can many times lead to a mad scurry of vineyard hands rushing out into the rows to quickly remove bunches before the onset of an impending storm.

First, in terms of heat and oxidation, both of these elements can very easily ruin what would otherwise be perfectly ripened fruit and you would experience a very different wine in the bottle as a result. For this reason, you will often see high-quality producers picking in the wee hours of the morning, or even over nighttime, with picking stopping around lunchtime when the sun reaches its zenith. It is crucial for fresh-tasting wines, to have fresh, undamaged fruit delivered to the crush pad. Exposure to heat can result in a loss of freshness, which is especially damaging with concern to most white wines on the market.

Arts and Crafts Show WV State Fairgrounds

For much the same reason, it is also important to protect the fruit from the damaging effects of oxygen. If the berries break in the crates, or if the berries become dislodged from the stem, some of the juice will leak out and oxidation will begin immediately. If you don’t think this makes a big difference, consider whether you would prefer a red delicious apple that was just removed from the refrigerator and sliced right in front of you, or an apple that was quartered a few hours ago and left sitting on the counter on a hot summer day. As apples oxidize and turn brown, they lose their freshness and the same thing happens with grapes. This loss of freshness can be a detriment for both white and red wines and this is why you’ll see wineries go to great lengths to pick whole bunches of grapes very carefully, often with laborers hand-picking as opposed to machine harvesters, and handling those bunches as carefully as possibly while transporting them to the winery as quickly as possible. Hand-picking will undoubtedly raise the cost of the wine, but it is often well worth that cost.

This is all being done with an eye on the forecast. Winemakers will often try to hang their fruit sometimes as long as they can to get the right balance between the sugar ripeness—which will give you alcohol—and the flavor ripeness, which comes from elements within the skins. This is especially important for red wines, as they ferment on the skins and, as such, are highly influenced by the components contained therein. If rain comes during harvest, it can be disastrous for a winery as the fruit will soak up the water and the berries will literally grow fatter with dilution. This will lead to a much inferior product as flavor intensity is one of the primary components distinguishing premium wines from bulk wines. All the effort a winemaker went through to achieve an optimum level of ripeness can very easily be lost if this occurs. Hence, most wineries will time these events out very carefully to avoid this.

greenbrier real estate lewisburg wv

In the end, as we are enjoying our wines right now on the back porch watching the waning days of summer and the birth of fall, this is really one of the busiest and possibly most frantic times of the year for most wineries. It is often said by winemakers, and said so without exaggeration, that great wines are made in the vineyard, and harvest is a crucial aspect of that process. Happily, our only job is to enjoy the fruits of their labor!

– Brian McClure, HashtagWV September 2016

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Submit a Comment


Magical Moments & Frightening Haunts w/ Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper this October!

Magical Moments & Frightening Haunts w/ Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper this October! - Enjoy magical moments and frightening haunts w/ Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper this October 2020! At the top of most everyone’s list this month is finding magical moments, carving pumpkins with family and friends, and setting up decorations leading up to Halloween. There’s almost too much to do when fall finally rolls around including long walks […]

Local Resources


Stay Updated w/ HashtagWV!

Want to stay updated with the paper or thinking about advertising? Sign up today for the latest HASHTAGWV monthly newsletter!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Best Things to Do in Lewisburg, WV

Best Things to Do in Lewisburg WV! - Spending a day in Lewisburg? Here are a few of the best things to do while you’re visiting. Start your day at the Wild Bean coffee shop.  Located downtown, this cafe offers premium coffee, tea, veggie cuisine, wi-fi, entertainment, and more! The breakfast menu consisting of breakfast burritos, egg scrambles, breakfast sandwiches and granola w/ […]

"Over the last 10 years, we have tried several avenues for advertising. Beyond a doubt, our greatest return has been through HASHTAGWV. Whether it be in the HASHTAGWV print edition, or online, our customers, both locals and tourists, really do look for this media form to be in tune with what’s going on in the area and for destination shopping. Advertising with LBSPY (now HASHTAG) has unequivocally been a great asset for our business!" - Craig Miller w/ Serenity Now Outfitters. Ad rates start at just $20! Click here for MEDIA KIT  

Patrick4CMPLTshrp "Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper is the best thing that has happened in Greenbrier County since I have been here for seven years. Maybe the whole state.... a first class operation and a lot of hard work," Patrick O'Flaherty (pictured above), The Irish Pub, Lewisburg, WV
Adam DeGraff "HashtagWV always has their finger on the pulse of this community!" - Adam Degraff (pictured above), (The Weight/ The Dueling Fiddlers / Pianafiddle)

Wonder How HashtagWV Remains Free?

WONDER HOW HASHTAG LEWISBURG CITY PAPER REMAINS FREE? - Wondering how Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper gets published and distributed FREE every month in-print and online? Do we have wealthy parents or did one of us seduce a millionaire? No. Are we financed by bank loans or grant money? Nope, not that either. Until we hit it BIG in the lotto, every issue of HASHTAGWV comes […]


P.O. Box 744
Lewisburg, West Virginia 24901


"Here at WHEN PIGS FLY BBQ, we get the most return advertising with Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper. New customers tell us all the time how they see our ad. They then come see us!" - Mike and Kellen, owners of When Pigs Fly BBQ, Lewisburg, WV.
"Christina, Thank you so much for the cover and the ARTICLE. Your HASHTAGWV is fantastic! We hope to grow this ride and other sports events in our area. Your magazine will do this. Again thank you from everyone in the GVBike club. Come ride with us sometime." - Janice Centa


Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper is a free, full color arts and entertainment tabloid dedicated to providing useful information in the areas of Greenbrier County, Pocahontas County, parts of Alleghany County, and more. We distribute 7,000, full color issues every month.


We are engaged in promoting local music, arts, events, dining, and shopping. We reach our audience where they live, eat, shop, drink, play, and fill up their gas tank. BEHIND HASHTAG