The 2022 Grape Harvest has started in Oakley


Have you seen those vines burdened with a heavy load of grapes? Yep, they’re ready to harvest and it appears like another good year for California wine. Generally the harvest starts can start in early August  in Oakley and last into to October.  Growers and winemakers are checking sugar content daily to determine which vineyard will be picked next.

Starting the harvest is determined in large part by the sugar level in the grape. The wine industry uses the term “brix” to designate sugar level. A small piece of testing equipment called a “refractometer” allows a winemaker to assess the ripeness of the grape. A grape is placed in the device and the percentage of brix is displayed on a scale seen through the eye piece. A brix level of 25- 26 is good for picking red grapes. Other varieties will have less or more. White wine and rosés require a brix level around 22 – 23. The winemaker will also use flavor as a determining factor of when to pick grapes.

Nearly 80 percent of Oakley’s roughly 500 acres of vineyards are planted in Zinfandel, a variety of red wine grape. Other varieties of grapes in Oakley include: Mourvèdre, a grape used to make both strong, dark red wines and rosés; Carignane, another red wine grape, is one of the world’s most widely available grapes. These three varieties also make up most of Oakley’s ancient vines (80 – 120 years old).

There are other grapes grown in Oakley: Palomino is a white grape; Sémillon is a golden-skinned grape; other red grapes include; GrenachePetite Syrah, Sirah, Barbera and Alicante Bouschet.

The harvest will continue through the first of October so be wary of slow moving farm equipment on the roads. Oakley’s vineyards are dispersed throughout the community making the movement of vehicles including tractors, forklifts and trucks essential to a timely harvest and this means your friendly farmers will be sharing the road with you more frequently as they drive their “implements of husbandry.”

The California vehicle code defines implements of husbandry as a vehicles used exclusively in the conduct of agricultural operations. For a complete list of implements of husbandry, see Vehicle Code section 36000. They are generally identifiable by the a slow-moving vehicle emblem, a large orange triangle on the back of the equipment, and are exempt from registration, brakes, lights, size limitations (within specific guidelines and with the exception of weight) and identification plates when operated or moved over a highway.

When approaching one of these “implements of husbandry” do so with caution, they probably can’t hear or see you. Follow at a safe distance and pass only where appropriate and remember, that driver has the same legal rights as you do in your car.

About Kevin

Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-UPI, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Trustee RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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