DRYING AND HARVEST
Harvest begins in late summer to early autumn (February/March) when grapes are ripe.
Most growers use the trellis drying method, where grapes are dried on the vine before being harvested mechanically. Trellis drying is sometimes known as summer pruning and was developed in the late 1960s by the CSIRO. Fruiting canes are cut to separate the bulk of grape bunches from the vine, and the fruit is sprayed with a food-grade drying emulsion. This emulsion of potassium carbonate and a refined vegetable oil alters the wax layer on the grape and allows the moisture in the berries to move out through the skin, locking in natural sugars.
Bunches are ready to be harvested around three weeks later when the fruit has dried to about 16 per cent moisture content and the stems are brittle. A harvester moves along the rows, shaking fruit from the vine and removing dry leaves and sticks at the same time. The fruit is then collected in large bins and finish-dried in dehydrators.
The production of Australian dried grapes is unique. Fruit never touches the ground at any stage of the process, eliminating foreign materials. Grapes are dried naturally under the hot sun without the use of sulphur, additives or artificial colour.