The 2018 growing season has been text book so far, save for a few days in the 100-degree range. Harvest is now within sight as the grape berries begin to change color, a process known as Veraison. As with many viticulture terms, this term has been adopted to English from French, originally Véraison (veh-ray-zohN).
Veraison is arguably the most important moment in a grape’s annual lifecycle, when berries begin to ripen and mature. The vine begins to focus its energy from creation (photosynthesis) to energy consumption. In turn, the grape berries become darker, firmer and sweeter. The darkening of the grape skin actually protects them from sun damage and other stresses as they move into the final, and most critical, stage of development.
Once veraison takes place, the ripening process continues anywhere from 30-70 days depending on the grape variety. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from our Lewis Vineyard in Carneros are among our first grapes to ripen, while our Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot take a little more time to develop and ripen.
Visit Napa Valley during July to see the scene unfold for yourself. Our Chardonnay changes from green to translucent gold and our red varietals undergo a more dramatic transformation from green to ruby-red. It’s an amazing, natural process to witness. The road to harvest is certainly a colorful one!