The harvest time of grapes depends on the respective varieties and the weather conditions. Here you can find out how you can tell that grapes are ripe and how long they have to be harvested.

harvest time

Depending on the grape variety , the harvest time usually extends from the end of August/beginning of September to the beginning/mid-November . Depending on the weather, the harvest time can be pushed forward or backward.

There are differences in harvest time between

  • early, middle and late ripening varieties
  • Grapes for eating (table grapes) and for making wine (press grapes)

Basically, it is important to quickly discover the optimal state of ripeness for the grape varieties, because the grapes have an optimal ripeness, only two to three weeks remain for harvesting before the grapes (inedible) become overripe.

Eating maturity and wine maturity

It should be noted that the maturity for eating differs from the maturity for winemaking. A pleasant sweetness is crucial for consumption, while the grape harvest for wine production is all about the fruit acid in connection with the sugar content. That is why winegrowers wait a few weeks after they are ready to be eaten before harvesting, so that the sugar and extract levels increase and the acidity decreases. Depending on the desired quality and grape variety , the grape harvest continues well into November.

An exception are the grapes for ice wine. They only become ready for harvest after temperatures of minus seven degrees Celsius. The “last” edible table grapes are offered by the late-ripening varieties with a harvest time at the end of September/beginning of October.


The term “verjuice” comes from the French and means “green juice”. This is a very old condiment. It is used as an alternative to vinegar, wines and lemons to add acidity to dishes. Nowadays, verjuice is rarely produced, distributed and bought. However, it offers home growers an additional opportunity to expand the scope of self-sufficiency. Only unripe, green fruits are used for this purpose, the harvest time of which is three to four weeks before the ideal ripening time is reached, depending on the variety. This results in an approximate harvest time between the beginning and end of August.

recognize maturity

In order to be able to harvest grapes with the best possible aroma and a fine sweetness, the right degree of ripeness is decisive. Regardless of the grape variety, this can be recognized by the following details:

  • Core color has changed from green and creamy white to brown
  • woody stems
  • Grapes colored throughout
  • slightly sweet taste
  • crunchy shell when biting into it
  • firm but not too hard flesh
  • Wine grapes: Use of a refractometer to determine ripeness is common
Tip: Be careful not to harvest the grapes too early. Edible varieties do not ripen and they noticeably lack glucose. If you are unsure whether a grape is ripe or not, it is better to wait a day or two before harvesting.

time of use

Exactly when grapes are to be harvested also depends on when they are used. They do not keep long after harvest and quickly form a mushy consistency. Then there is a risk of mold. For these reasons, they should only be harvested if they are to be eaten or processed directly.

The “extension” of the harvest time is particularly useful for manageable consumption requirements, which means that smaller quantities can be harvested over a longer period of time. This is possible if early, medium and late-ripening varieties are cultivated. This automatically results in different harvest times.


If the fruits are ripe on the vines, the shelf life should be taken into account for the time of harvest. At room temperature, this is between four and six days. A longer shelf life of up to 14 days can be achieved when stored in the refrigerator.

Tip: If you leave the stalks on the fruit when harvesting the grapes, you can benefit from a few days longer shelf life and freshness.

frequently asked Questions

It depends. If the weather is cool and you have the option to give your vine plant more warmth, this speeds up the ripening process. If leaves are covering the fruit, cut them off to allow more sunlight to reach them. Choose a wind-protected location so that cool breezes do not unnecessarily prolong the ripening process.

After Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus vitacea) shows its flowering from June/July, the fruits form from it until October. However, these are not edible grapes, but black-blue grapes. These are not suitable for consumption because they contain toxic oxalic acid. They can cause symptoms of poisoning in humans and animals, such as vomiting, diarrhea and lead to a life-threatening high urine output.

The term “physiological maturity” originated in the United States. While the ripeness of grapes used to be judged mainly on the acid and sugar content, this term now also includes the color of the fruit, the elasticity of the pulp, the ripeness of the pips and the taste of the fruit. Although these criteria were not completely unknown in the past for finding out the degree of maturity, the physiological maturity now also officially describes this in Germany/Central Europe.

As a rule, grapes only form from the second or third year or in the second or third year of life, provided you have planted a young plant and the plants feel comfortable. Take into account that this waiting time is usually acceptable even after transplanting. This is due to getting used to the new site and soil conditions.

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