It is an exciting time at our Vineyard–our grape berries are beginning to turn PURPLE! Our once green-colored clusters now have splashes of purple amidst the many clusters of grapes hanging from the vines. This life cycle stage of the vineyard is called veraison—a word meaning the onset of ripening. Veraison an exciting phase signifying the coming of Harvest and everyone at Concannon Vineyard is gearing up for this busy yet thrilling season. (Learn more about the annual life cycle of the grape vine here.)
Here are a few facts about veraison:
What is veraison? Veraison begins when green chlorophyll is broken down and the grape berries begin to accumulate colorful pigments that turn them golden, red, or purple. During this time, the beautiful July sun is soaked up by the vine’s leaves, turning it into sugars and carbohydrates that the vine can feast on. Some of the sugar is deposited into the grapes; meanwhile, certain very sour acids are broken down. This causes their flavors to change from being very tart, herbaceous and acidic to tasting more fruity, sweet and delicious. The more sunlight absorbed by the leaves of the vine, the sweeter its fruit becomes.
Why does Veraison happen? Grapevines hope that their seeds will be carried far away and dropped off in a place where new vines will sprout from them. The best way to guarantee this is to produce grapes that are sweet, fruity, and delicious so that animals will want to eat them and spread their seeds. During veraison, the vines are hard at work developing the flavor of their berries to hopefully ensure the success of their offspring.
When is Veraison? Veraison occurs after Fruit Set (when the grape berries are growing in size) and before Harvest. In the Livermore Valley, veraison occurs from July to August. Every year is slightly different depending on the weather, and every grape varietal has its own pace. White grapes like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc tend to ripen first, while red grapes, like Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, always take a little longer to acquire color and flavor. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot are always the slowest of the bunch, taking their sweet (literally and figuratively) time. Concannon Vineyard Winemaker Julian Halasz recently visited our estate vineyard and mentioned, “the Syrah already has about 50% Veraison and will be 100% by next week. By the end of July, most reds will be partially or fully done—except for our late ripeners such as our ‘Mother Vine’ Cab.”
So don’t miss veraison at Concannon and check it out for yourself. Harvest will begin for us at the end of August/beginning of September – stay tuned. We look forward to seeing you. Cheers to a fruitful upcoming harvest!