Aren’t the purty? There’s something so sweet and lovely about the clusters as they begin to blush and change color. By the time they’re finished they’ll be almost black in color.
And, the color change is such a significant event that there’s a name for it – French, of course 😉 – veraison.
Veraison signals that the shoots have stopped growing and that the vine’s energy has shifted into fruit ripening. It’s a kind of code language to the vineyard manager and the cellar master to get it together for crush because the grapes will be pounding on the door before long.
Veraison is usually complete within about ten days, if the weather’s good. Shortly after, the vineyard manager will get a baseline sugar reading. Folks who are called field samplers are hired to walk the vine rows, collecting grape samples. Because most vineyards are harvested only once, they get specific instructions from the vineyard manager because the sample needs to represent the section of vineyard as a whole. The winemaker wants an average reading of sugar, acid and pH. Continue reading
We’re having such a lovely summer this year in Napa Valley. Our days have been made up of comfortably warm daytime temperatures followed by chilly, foggy nights with the occasional brief blast of heat, so far, which happens to be the formula for an excellent Napa Valley vintage!
Marty wrote in to ask about frequent references I make to warm vs. cool-climate wine and this is a great time of year to talk about it, although the real story can’t be written until harvest is over, hopefully by Halloween.
If you like to garden, you know how seasonal temperatures affect the ripening pattern of your fruit and vegetables. Imagine trying to ripen tomatoes on your patio if you live San Francisco, where it’s foggy daily, in the summertime, and temperatures rarely rise above 65F. Those are going to be some tart, green tomatoes, right? The same thing applies to grapes. They start out with high levels of acid, low levels of sugar, and vegetative flavors. As the weeks go by they gain fruitiness and sweetness, and the acid decreases, provided they get enough heat and sun. So, depending upon where they’re grown they’ll ripen slowly or quickly and end up tasting more or less ripe since the level of sugar and acidity is affected. Continue reading