Syrah at Mitchella Vineyards 7-21-12

Same Syrah clusters at Mitchella on 7-29-12
Change is inevitable. Some fear change, and others embrace it. But the changes that are going on right now, are looked forward to every year, and give a clue to what is in the future.

Of course I am talking about wine, but it's not wine yet. Yes, the grapes in the vineyard reaching that point in their annual lifecycle (see budbreak and flowering) , where they go through a process known as veraison. Last week, I started receiving the first reports of  versaison occurring in the vineyards. So what is veraison, and why should we even care about it?

In simple terms, veraison is the point in a grapes' life cycle where it changes from little hard green "pebbles" to larger, colored plump berries.

Claiborne &Churchill Twin Creeks Vineyard 7-19-12
At the beginning of veraison, the grape berries are hard, green, and acidic, and are around half their ultimate harvest size. At veraison, the grape berries start to soften. The acid in the grapes reduces, and is joined by fructose and glucose (sugars). Depending on the grape variety, the chlorophyll green color changes to red/black or yellow/green.

Ampelos Vineyard 7-14-12
Each grape variety goes through veraison at different times, but even the same grape variety will begin the change at different times both in the vineyard, and the individual cluster. The first grapes to change are those that are exposed to warmer microclimates. This can be due to sun exposure, and aspect in the vineyard. The leaf canopy, and how the grower prunes the canopy can affect the time of conversion. It is also interesting to note that those growers who thin the grape clusters (reducing the size of the crop) see veraison occur earlier. Lower yields typically produces higher quality grapes. Early veraison, may be an indication of higher quality. The key words in that last sentence is "may be". If it is true, then there might be a rush to announce veraison in the vineyard.

Riverbench Vineyard 7-14-12
So, we are at the beginning of the end for this years harvest. In about eight to ten weeks, the growers will be watching the brix levels (sugar in the grapes) and watching the weather to determine when to harvest, and ultimately make the best wine out of this years harvest.

No comments:

Post a Comment