Let's start with what harvest is. Harvest is the last period of time that grapes are spending in the vineyard, also it's the birthday of the wine. It's the last period of time that grapes are spending in the vineyard because it is the time they are cut from the branches -in other words being harvested. Although this time period has shifted -and is still shifting- due to climate change, the grapes are harvested around mid-August-September in the Northern Hemisphere.
Harvest is the birthday of the wine. Because the next stop after the vineyard is the winery where the production process begins. Harvest always reminds me of both the end and the beginning, both death and birth. When the grapes leave the vineyard, it's like an end; when the vine turns from green to brown, it's like death. (The vine doesn't die in the winter, of course, it sleeps.) When the grapes leave the vineyard and enter the winery, it's like a beginning; when the grapes turn into wine, it's like a birth. In fact, the year of the harvest is the vintage. So, harvest year = year of the yield = vintage. The year written on the front of the label of the wine bottle is the vintage of that wine, and it says "The grapes in this bottle were harvested this year", in other words, "The wine was born on this year."
This is a magical season. It's as if a whole year's worth of labor is hidden in those bunches you cut. The vine is in transformation for a whole year in the vineyard. The first news and the first color comes in the spring. When the March-April comes in the Northern Hemisphere, a budding begins, like a messenger of spring. We can think of this as the beginning of the growth period. Buds appear, green colors appear. Then these buds swell and swell until they burst. These burst buds turn into new and young shoots. These young shoots continue to grow until May gives way to June. The leaves are developing, the green color in the vine is spreading. And around June, flower formation (flowering) begins. Then the flowers turn into grapes, the grape berries form; now we can see the cluster.
Then comes summer and the magic period: véraison. The time when the grape berries change color and become speckled with spots.
The next step is the ripening and harvesting of the grapes. The grapes have been growing all year, the result of all the work in the vineyard is hidden in the harvest period -which is now. The grapes that have reached the required ripeness are cut with harvest shears. The cut grape clusters are put into crates. From the crates they go to the trucks, and from there to the winery.
Every year the weather conditions - rain, wind, sun, water - determine how the grapes turn out. Whatever happened in the sky that year, we see its effect on the grapes. That's why each year brings a different story and each story brings a different harvest.
Sacredness has been attached to the grape throughout history. It is magical how the vine leaves its greens in winter, and then blooms and blossoms again in spring. I think the sanctity attributed to wine comes from this magical cycle. It is an endless cycle, it's never ending. The concept of time comes to my mind again. Grapes are formed, they ripen, they are harvested. Time passes, transformation happens, but nothing disappears. I visualize an hourglass that keeps turning over.
I want to use the word abundance here. What I felt most when I stepped on the soil in the vineyard was abundance. There are so many grapes around; months ago there were none, and each one will give way to the next. This cycle is very stable. People change, climates change, structures change, but this cycle is always the same. The earth is always giving. Every year, every time. It is like eternity. I think that's why I feel the abundance.
The vintage is a process that is done together. That's where the festival atmosphere comes from. Those grapes are cut together and celebrated together. What is celebrated is labor and fertility; the labor of human beings and the fertility of the soil. So the harvest is not just about cutting grapes; it is a hello to the results of labor and what the land gives. For this reason, it is celebrated with festivities in many places. They say goodbye to the period that has ended, and hello to the new period that will begin.