Wine Grape Harvest at Our Ramona Winery

The thought brings warm memories and slightly anxious anticipation… for a winemaker; it’s a kin to Christmas.

Micole and I start preparing for harvest in July, carefully choosing what yeast to pair with what varietal, continuing to learn more about our craft, wondering… should we stick with BM45 (an Italian Isolate we’ve had good success with the Brunello clone from Paciello Vineyards) or try something new, like the recently available Rockpile strain that comes from the famous California’s AVA (American Viticultural Area) of the same name? Then, there’s the whispered rumors, some Ramona Vineyards might have some Petite Sirah available… there could be extra Cab! The Brunello clone (a cousin of Sangiovese) is doing well, we may get more than what we got last year… the anticipation builds, and with it, some anxiety.


Will we correctly anticipate the harvest needs, and have enough supplies?

Will the grapes come in at our ideal numbers, brix (sugar) around 24.5,
TA (Titratable Acids) around .7, and the PH between 3.2 and 3.8?

As the grapes ripen, the brix (sugar) will go up, while the TA (acid) drops, so we are looking to time the harvest when all three numbers are in our desired ranges. If you wait too long, the acid will drop, and the grapes will over-ripen, and you’ll get a “fruit bomb,” which may be better suited to port. The old saying goes, good wine is made in a lab, and great wine is made in the vineyard. Sure, if the acid is too low, we can add some citric acid, a natural product to bump it up, and some commercial wineries do just that, but our goal is to truly express the terrior (feeling) of the Ramona vineyards with a naturally balanced wine.

We get there by working.  Good wine grapes enjoy the same things we do; dappled sun, a bit of a cool breeze, and enough room to stretch. The vineyard manager’s job is to provide those perfect conditions by removing leaves, dropping excess fruit to control the vines natural vigor and allowing the selected clusters the room to thrive.


Ramona Valley harvesting starts, mid-August, and will likely go through October.

Here at Ramona Ranch Winery, we invite our WineClub members, fellow Ramona Valley Vineyard members as well as our equestrian friends to help bring in the harvest, often seeing the same “crew” go from vineyard to vineyard on a weekend. The grapes must come in when they are ready, to pick too early runs the risk of a green or vegetate tasting wine, to pick too late, can result in too much of that lovely jam flavor.

If you have the opportunity to participate in harvest, I highly encourage you to give it a try; you’ll be rewarded with beautiful vistas, camaraderie that comes from shared efforts, and the unspoken rule that your host must feed you well for your efforts, for it truly is a celebration of labor and love.

To learn more about our emerging region and download a free map, visit

Teri Kerns,
Ramona Ranch Vineyard and Winery
Located east of the unincorporated town of Ramona in the Ramona Valley AVA