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Harvest your grapes, dump them into a 2 ton container, and let them sit in the sun waiting for transport to the crusher.

How not to harvest grapes.

How not to harvest grapes.

A few problems I see with this method:

  1. The grapes at the bottom are already crushed by the weight of those above. This can introduce spoilage bacteria and yeast into the juice which might give off flavors to the resulting wine.
  2. Heat from the sun on any crushed juice in the container will cause oxidation of the juice, which is undesirable for white wine.
  3. The container may have been brought to the vineyard scrubbed, cleaned and sterilized; but it is not difficult to have lingering doubts about that**.

This is my opinion, of course, but I think many wine makers will agree with me.

Unfortunately, the above image may not create much confidence in Hungarian wine making. But the truth is, like all places in the world, you have to be an informed consumer. There are many stellar wines and wine makers in Hungary who would never harvest as shown in the picture above, and there are also some less so stellar ones. You have to know your winery and the full cycle of their wine growing, harvesting and wine making methods. And just because the winery tasting room has a big terrace overlooking a nice view is not a guarantee that the grapes in the wine they serve did not arrive at their cellar as shown above. Ask to see photos of their operations, how they bring in the grapes, how they ferment it, etc. It is the 21st century, their should be no reason they can not transparently document what they do.

** Even when harvested in a less than sterile container, any resulting wine should be itself essentially sterile of bacteria, due to its alcohol content, and no health hazard. But some fungus can still grow in wine so a good wine maker will try to avoid all possible fungal sources. Also, perception is 9/10th of marketing, and dirty looking containers do not help with perception.