The first question I normally get this time of year is…how do you know if the grapes are ready to pick? The most important thing is taste. If it does not taste good as a grape it won’t taste good in your glass 2 years later. Next is sugar and acid content. To measure sugar we use a refractometer (the silver/black tool in the middle of the picture). At Turtle Vines, we don’t like high alcohol wines, so when the sugar is near 24 brix (%) it will make 13.5% alcohol wine. In addition, you want your acids to remain fairly high. I use test strips (above right) to give me an indication. Even if it goes low you can add some to the wine later. Lastly you look at the seeds. These will add tannins to the wine. You want the seeds to be brown. This will give a nice flavor. If they are green it will add a vegetative flavor you don’t want in red wine. See the picture below. Brown seeds with green tips. I hope they are all brown by the time we pick next week. As an aside, last year in our first harvest they were mostly green, but the wine still tasted nice.