It’s all about change here at Virage. This week, our vineyards will be nearly through Veraison –the period of time where the grapes change color.
Another beautiful French word, “veraison” doesn’t seem to have a suitable translation in English. It is more than a change of skin color; veraison is a change in direction (sound familiar?) of the vines’ energy. From creating canes and leaf canopy that support and protect growing grape clusters, after veraison, the vines dedicate their focus to ripening berries. Skins begin to soften, seeds will mature, “green” pyrazine flavors will subside and the grape “flesh” starts becoming sweeter–to encourage munching by critters.
Since the vine’s primary intention is to propagate its kind, the plant will over-set to ensure enough berries with viable seeds are transported where a new vine could grow. Winegrowers, on the other hand, seek whole clusters that can be harvested in a single pass for efficient farming–so we might bring wine lovers a gorgeous bottle of wine at a reasonable price. So we are watching the clusters very closely during veraison; when we see 95% color change, we’ll go through and drop any cluster (i.e., literally cut it off the vine) that is 50% green (or more). They’re just not going to catch up.