Time for change – time for veraison. This is the wonderful and dramatic stage when, in only a day or two, the grapes change color, become soft and pliable and the sugar starts rising rapidly. It is happening right now in our vineyards.
The word veraison comes from French and its origin is in a Latin word for change – variation. All grapes start out green, colored by chlorophyll, and until right now in July they all look the same regardless of whether they end up red or white grapes. But at veraison the skin color starts changing to red or gold from the phenols. Early in the season grapes are very acidic and at veraison the sugar has not reached more than 6-7%, or Brix as we call it. At veraison the entire metabolism of the grape changes and sugar production increases much faster to reach the optimum for harvest, 22-24 %, in just the next couple of months. From now on most of the flavors we want for making wine are developed. The acidity goes down and phenolic compounds are evolving which creates color and taste. And of course, without the sugar there would not be much wine to speak of either.
Veraison starts at different times for different grapes and the timing is also dependent on the weather. Sun, rain and temperature during spring and early summer all play a roll. This year it seems like we are a bit early and veraison is just around the corner. Exciting times which really define the wine we will make for you this fall.