Fall is here and the grape harvest is just around the corner. You might say there are two harvests, one for sparkling wines and one for still wines. Grapes for sparkling wine will be harvested beginning in August since their sugar content requirement is only 19% sugar rather than 25% for still wines. For still wines, unless an usually warm summer speeds ripening, full harvest begins in September. For grape harvesting, picking at precisely the right moment is critical. When the grapes are ready there are, literally, not enough hours in the day. Sometimes picking goes on right around the clock. Should you hear engine noises in the vineyard at night, it may be a mechanical harvester at work. Or, you may see the flood lights of hand harvesting. Night harvesting has another major benefit: the grapes are cooler. Chilled grapes don’t ferment on the way to the winery. While there’s a feast of other food available to birds this time of year, a few species love to munch on winegrapes. That’s when the shining strips of mylar go up. Or, if too many birds appear that’s when netting will be stretched over the vines to protect the still ripening grapes. Harvest is an exciting time and a wonderful Sonoma County life experience can be had by visiting a winery just for the heavenly scent of the crush.