Vineyard Update | Verasion
The vineyard has come a long way since my last post; berry growth has turned to berry ripening, a roughly 6 week process referred to as veraison. Fruit that a week ago resembled hard green peas are now starting to soften and change color. The Merlot block got us started with handful of grapes per cluster showing hues of red and light purple in mid-July. Now, almost August, we are greeted by dark ruby whole clusters. The Petit Verdot has joined in; the Viognier is turning from green to gold and their berry skins are becoming translucent. Berries will swell as much as twice their pre-veraison size as they accumulate sugar laden juice. While the topic of berry ripeness is a complex one, it is this sugar accumulation that is the hallmark of August.
Ryan and Angel are just finishing long days in the vineyard dropping excess fruit. This “green harvest” before and at the onset of veraison helps concentrate the vine’s resources on ripening less fruit to promote a better outcome on that which remains, more mature berries rich in flavor compounds. As with some humans, a young vine’s desire to procreate can lead to poor decisions. A young vine can easily produce more fruit than it can adequately ripen or worse, grape clusters being huge energy sinks, they can leave the vines very weak with few stored carbohydrates to overwinter and relaunch in the spring. Weakened vines would have not stood up to either of our last 2 winters.
Another key component of ripening which bears mention is acidity. Most folks might be surprised that if you chew on a green grape, it likely surpasses the greenest apple you have ever pulled from you cousin’s apple tree as a kid but the similarities are striking. As they should be, grapes are dominated by tartaric and malic acid. It is during veraison that these acid levels fall, faster in hot regions, and demand close observation by the grower. Acid balances the wine and cuts the fat in paired food.
Next up, bird netting… if the grapes taste good to us, they taste great to birds.