Onset of Ripening – 2013

August 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

August 5th, 2013

In the past few days we’ve seen the first signs of veraison in our vineyards.  While veraison is technically defined as “the change in color of berries,” what it really signifies is a transition in the vine from berry growth to berry ripening.  At this stage the vine will (should) cease growth of shoots and berries and focus its energy on just the clusters of berries, meaning that henceforth all focus is on ripening fruit.  This is when the weather becomes even more important.

Merlot cluster, mid-veraison.

Merlot cluster, mid-veraison.

Most of the vineyard work previous to this stage could be categorized as “preparation” – setting the stage for the most optimal ripening. We want nice canopies with plenty of airflow, appropriate yield, space between clusters, and healthy vines.  Winter pruning, shoot thinning, positioning, hedging, spraying, leaf removal, etc. – all of those activities are our attempt to set the stage best for ripening.  After veraison, as things begin to ripen, most of the vineyard work slows down, and we let the vines do their thing, so to speak.

Petit Verdot cluster, pre-veraison.  Both photos were taken on the same day.

Petit Verdot cluster, pre-veraison. Both photos were taken on the same day.


Does the onset of ripening give us an idea of when harvest will begin?  Somewhat.  But different varietals, clones, and vineyards all ripen at different speeds.  And then there’s the weather, which from here on out will have a drastic impact on the pace of ripening.  The more days we have like this past week – highs in the 80s, sunny, lows in the 60s – are perfect for slow, balanced ripening.  But who knows what will come….



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