Veraison is the forerunner of the harvest. It is the period when the grapes start to change their color. Together with color change, metabolism of the grapes also starts to change: they start to accumulate sugar instead of acids. This way, they prepare themselves to harvest, ripening day by day and be ready for the harvest time!
Veraison is the stage when we can finally distinguish the red and white grape varieties by their color. Before veraison all the bunches are pure green! The magic of the veraison is that the berries start to change their color one by one, not all the berries in a bunch change their color at the same time, so in a bunch we can see different colors like green, pink, purple… which allow us to enjoy the picturesque view in the vineyard.
Although it is a drastic change for the grapes, it happens only in a short period like one to two weeks, depending on many factors; climate of the region, soil and water status of the vines, variety and rootstock of the vines… The start of veraison has a huge importance for the harvest. In this period, the viticulturists generally pay attention to mid-veraison which means, half of the bunches in the plant change their color. After it happens, it can be roughly counted 50 to 60 days to harvest time. Although it is not the way to decide the exact harvest time of the grapes, it gives an idea to the viticulturists and winemakers to make estimation. It is also important for the application of the pesticides or fungicides to coincidence the last application date at least a period of a month before the harvest. Finally the yield can be predicted more precisely after veraison since after this period the grapes do not change their weight too much.
I had the chance to observe veraison in the beginning of August in Margaux region. When I made a visit to the vineyard in July 30, the veraison was already started but not 50% was achieved. I made my second visit to the same vineyard in August 6. The change was incredible. Almost all the bunches finished to chance their color. It is also cited in Bordeaux Raisins that that this year mid-veraison in Bordeaux region for Merlot is 4 of August while for Cabernet Sauvignon 7 of August. These dates are 10 days earlier than the last year and also earlier than the average of the last 10 years (2003-2013). It means it is expected an earlier harvest in 2015.
After veraison, although the berries look like mature as appearance, they still have almost the same taste as the green colored berries in the beginning of the veraison. I tasted a red colored berry of Cabernet Sauvignon, it was almost the same feeling as eating a green pepper. It can be tricky for visitor grape tasters; my suggestion for you is just to wait one or two weeks more before starting to taste berries as a hobby…
In the vineyard that I visited, before the veraison period, leaf removal was applied, it means the leaves which covers the bunches were eliminated. This is done simply to increase the exposed sunlight in the bunches, especially in wine growing regions with less hours of sunlight. You can think the leaf thinning treatment as a way to take out the hidden treasures which the vines keep under their leaves, and show them to the sunlight!
I wish a happy veraison and maturing period to all the grapes all around the world! Cheers!
All images © 2015 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.