History

In the late 1800’s the Gomes family chose to settle and farm Andrus Island because of its extremely fertile, oxygen-rich soil and water from the CA Delta. This is where our Albariño grapes are grown, lovingly tended to and hand picked to produce a crisp and refreshing wine. The Gomes family’s strong Portuguese heritage is displayed in our wine with the vibrant flavors of apple, pear and citrus. Albariño pairs well with many appetizers, pasta, fish and poultry.

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The harvesting of wine grapes  is one of the most crucial steps in the process of winemaking.  The question of using mechanical harvesting versus traditional hand picking is a source of contention in the wine industry.

Machine harvesters essentially remove the fruit from the vine by either slapping it using paddles or by shaking the vine to drop its fruit onto a conveyor belt that brings the fruit to a holding bin.  This process may collect other materials such as leaves, shoots, the odd lizard, etc., collectively known as MOG (material other than grape).  Despite the improvement, many harvesters still have difficulties in distinguishing between ripe, healthy grapes and unripe or rotted bunches.

Machine harvesting also causes a fair amount of juicing of the grapes.  Juicing causes the grape juice to come in contact with the skins resulting in juices that are high in phenolics, located primarily in the skin of grapes. Phenolic pickup is not an issuse with red grapes (they are fermented on their skins anyway), but in white wines, skin contact can result in a loss of delicacy in the finished wine. The broken skins also bring the risk of oxidation and a loss of some of the aromatic qualities in the wine.

Despite the five times higher costs, Gomes Vineyards prefers the use of human workers to hand-pick grapes. The main advantage is the knowledge and discernment of the worker to pick only healthy bunches and the gentler handling of the grapes.The vast majority of wine is made from machine-harvested grapes.  This keeps the price down on the $8 chardonnays that no one expects to be hand-crafted. But even if some of us do more or less regularly drink mass-produced industrial wines, we all know that hand-craftsmanship is best.

The one major quality advantage of machine harvesting over hand harvesting is that the grapes are harvested at night.  Gomes Vineyards takes pride in another step to a better wine…we hand pick at night. As a result, the fruit arrives at the winery 10-20C cooler than that which was picked during the day. The rate of juice browning and oxidation in general are temperature dependent. The higher the temperature, the faster it happens; therefore, the rate of oxidation is slowed due to the fruit being cooler.