Veraison is the moment when berries start to ripen. A litany of changes highlight the start of ripening – color, weight, plasticity, water retention, and cellular changes. The most evident change is color – Cabernet Sauvignon berries morph from green to purple and Sauvignon Blanc from green to yellow. This process typically occurs at the beginning of August, dependent on region and varietal. As it relates to Crown Point, veraison begins at the end of July on our elevated hillside, where the soil is rockier. In the lower lying mesa flats, the transition occurs later in part to the clay deposits within the topsoil. This transformation lasts roughly three weeks from the first block to the last block.
the moment when berries start to ripen
The phenomenon we observe when the grapes change color results from a complex process. Hormones in the plant start to activate sugar transport from the leaves into the berries. The berries then store that sugar and use it to produce color, tannins, flavors, and all the other compounds we enjoy in wine. Veraison marks the moment when grapes start to get sweeter and less acidic, ultimately, the beginning of ripening.
From year to year, the speed of how fast the grapes will complete veraison changes. If the plant is stressed or has too much water, veraison takes longer. We start to see less consistency between berries as this inconsistency creates differences between berries at the time of harvest – some berries will be ripe, and others will demonstrate immature tannins, green flavors, and unripe acid. Therefore, it is easy to understand why we need to ensure good veraison, fast and uniform. We must issue the proper amount of water – not too little, not too much. Finally, we deliver a compost tea to the vineyard via irrigation, providing the water and micronutrients necessary to facilitate an efficient veraison.
Once veraison begins, we can count the remaining days until we pick the fruit – we know the Cabernet Sauvignon is roughly 55 days out, and the Sauvignon Blanc is 35 days out. It is uncanny how punctual mother nature can be.