Russian River Valley
One of the most anticipatory times of year is just before harvest when tracking the ripeness of the grape berries becomes a daily routine for Vineyard Manager Chris Kangas. This ripening process, known as veraison, determines the status of harvest and when all hands on deck are required for harvest.
Veraison is defined as “The change of color of the grape berries, signaling the onset of ripening,” (Macneil, Wine Bible). For winemakers, this is crucial for knowing what to expect for the timeliness of harvest, the flavors, and brix levels of the fruit.
At Benovia, Chris checks the veraison status not just by the color changes, but by also cutting open the grapes to see the hardiness of the seeds. At first, the seeds are white and soft. Once the grape begins to ripen, the seeds become brown and hard.
Another sign of veraison is in the canes of the vines. As new growth sprouts from the original old growth, wooded vine, these canes begin green and supple, making them malleable for canopy training. Once veraison begins, the vines eventually turn from supple to hard and stiff and change from yellow to wood, indicating they are in veraison as the lignin begins to show.
The final stage of veraison is when the majority of the berries in the cluster have changed colors and sugar levels begin to reach an optimal level. At that point, any fruit that has not met these requirements will be dropped from the vine to ensure the quality and flavor complexity in the others. Please enjoy our next post on Fruit Thinning.