If you happened to visit a vineyard during veraison, you’d be amazed by all the different colors, from green to deep purple. Veraison is the time when the berries start their ripening period, by changing their color from green to yellow or red. Each individual berry has their own speed to start this change. Moreover, each grape variety and each location show different dates of veraison. That’s why it’s possible to observe so many colors at once.
Throwing back to my last veraison experience, Veraison in Bordeaux started in end of July-beginning of August for Cabernet Sauvignon in 2015, while Napa Valley showed its first red colored berry in second week of July in 2016.
Nova Scotia, as one of the cool climate viticulture regions, has the seasons later than the other wine regions in general. Most of the vineyards were covered with snow until end of March this year, and the bud burst had finally started in the middle of May. Just this week veraison is on the way for most of the varieties. If you consider that most of the North hemisphere wineries have already started to harvest, you can understand how late the season is here.
Lately, I was out there in Gaspereau Valley, one of the wine growing valleys of Nova Scotia, to observe the veraison in the hybrid grapes. Before getting into the topic, let’s open a parenthesis about what does hybrid grape mean.
To understand what the hybrid is first of all we should take a look at the systematic classification of grapevine. I will just draw a scheme to explain it, since it is a very big family.
The varieties that we know, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot etc. are the cultivars of the Vitis vinifera sativa. So, they are all coming from the same species of Vitis vinifera. When different species are crossed, from the same of different series, it is called a hybrid grape. This crossing can be in between the same series, for example a crossing of Vitis riparia and Vitis rupestris, or it can be a cross from the different series, for example a crossing of Vitis vinifera and Vitis riparia.
Maréchal Foch is a red hybrid variety developed by Eugene Kuhlmann (a French hybridizer) in Alsace, France. It was named after the French marshal (maréchal), Ferdinand Foch. Here you can see on the first photo that the veraison is on the half way. And in the second photo you can see the young leaves of the vine.
Léon Millot is another hybrid developed by Eugene Kuhlmann and it gives red grapes. Again you can see here the lovely bunches which start to change their color and the young leaves.
New York Muscat
New York Muscat is a hybrid crossed by Cornell University. Being one of the more than 200 grapes which are named as Muscat, it shares the typical Muscat aromas and generally used in NS in the blends. As far as I read, it gives pink-skinned grapes when it’s mature, I cannot wait to actually see them mature soon. In the mean time, I am amazed by the lovely color of the leaves, green as usual on top but white and hairy inside.
L’Acadie Blanc is crossed in Vineland Research and Development Center in Ontario, Canada and gives white grapes. You can read some more information on this variety on my previous article. As you can understand from the name, it gives white grapes so it might be difficult to observe the veraison. But if you look at the bunches closely, you will easily see the color change from green to yellow in some of the berries and when you touch those berries they will be softer, so there you will see that veraison is here!
All images © 2017 by Neslihan IVIT. All rights reserved.
- Peter, M. Pinhey, C. (2016). The Wine Lover’s Guide to Atlantic Canada. Halifax: Nimbus Publishing.