What is veraison?
Vines in the northern hemisphere have an active growing cycle from roughly April to October – bud burst to harvest – depending on the grape variety, the exact location and the weather conditions in each year. During this period one of the key milestones in the development of the grapes is veraison which generally occurs for us in late July or early August. The photo is of our Syrah Cahuzac parcel taken today, 11 August 2016, with a bunch of grapes going through veraison.
Up until veraison all the bunches of grapes, whether white or red varieties, are green, hard and incredibly bitter. Veraison is the moment when the grapes start to soften, the red grapes begin to change colour and the white grapes become golden and translucent. It also marks the point when the vine starts to produce sugars in the grapes.
As a rough rule of thumb its 45 days from mid-veraison, the date when 50% of bunches in a parcel are experiencing veraison, to harvest for that parcel. Of course the weather, and particularly the heat, in the days after veraison plays a huge part in the grapes’ development but the 45 day « rule » certainly helps winemakers start to plan their harvest schedules. Applying it to 2016 we’re estimating that we’ll probably be starting to harvest in the 2nd week of September. Get the date in your diaries!!