Véraison: Winemaking in full color
It’s a magical time in the vineyards and harbinger of harvest. Our winemaker, Elizabeth Grant-Douglas shares what makes the onset of véraison special to her.
Véraison (veh-ray-zohN) is a French viticulture term meaning “the onset of grape ripening.” And is signified by the change in color of grape berries. It’s one of my favorite times of year, as the vineyards begin to explode with fruit color.
The entire véraison process creates this anticipated color change in grapes. Our Chardonnay grapes change from deep green to a soft, translucent, golden yellow color. While our Pinot Noir grapes is visually more dramatic: transitioning from a similar green color to bright ruby-red – then further shifting to a dark black cherry hue.
But the change in the color of the grapes is only part of the story. June and July offer our vines an abundance of long days and bright sunshine. That sunlight creates energy resulting in sugars. Sugar begins to be deposited into the berries while sour acids are broken down. Berries change from being very tart, herbaceous and acidic to tasting more fruity and complex.
As véraison marks the winery’s homeward stretch to fall’s harvest, it’s a wonderfully welcome friend at the winery! Soon, I will be walking the vineyard rows tasting grapes to determine whether a particular vineyard is ready to pick, or if the grapes need to benefit from more hang time on the vines.
Despite this year’s challenge with drought, it’s officially going to be another record year for our harvest. We at La Crema are looking forward to the ripe days ahead!
– Elizabeth Grant-Douglas, La Crema Winemaker