In the Winemaking World it's Veraison Time!


The grape growing cycle is currently at the point where berries (the actual term for individual grapes) begin to turn color. This marks the point at which the grape vines move from berry growth to berry ripening.

The term for this stage is called Veraison (vuh-rey-zhun). And this means that there is now approximately 45 days until the beginning of harvest.

While veraison is most obvious on red wine grapes, white grapes also go through veraison. While their color change isn't as dramatic as the reds, they do change from green to a more yellow or golden green. 

Veraison marks the point where the grapes stop growing in size. But, it's also when the sugar content of the grapes changes significantly. And, the acid begins to decline.

So, winemakers are now very closely watching and testing the grapes to find the point where the sugar content and acidity are just right for the particular wine they are trying to produce.

It's an exciting time in the vineyard and harvest is just around the corner! Cheers!

Did You Know Wine Grapevines are Hermaphroditic?

Grape Blossoms_2.jpg

Last time we explored the life cycle of a grape vine and learned that they are perennials; they re-grow year-after-year. But, one of the more fascinating facts about grape vines has to do with how the flowers get pollinated.

Most flowering plants depend on insects, typically bees, to pollinate their flowers in order to produce fruit. And, that's the way it was with grape vines back a few thousand years B.C.  But, things eventually changed.  Back then, the people cultivating grapes were, for good reasons, choosing only female plants - the ones that produced fruit. That makes a lot of sense until you realize you need both the male and female plant in order to actually produce fruit. So, ultimately, if all you are planting is the female plant, you'd get no fruit.  But, nature has a way of rolling with these punches.  As early cultivators continued year-after-year to select and propagate fruit producing grape vines, they actually ended up selecting and propagating 'mutant' grape vines that had both the female and male parts on the same vine! And, voilà, no further need for insects to get involved in the pollinating process. The grape vine took care of things all by itself! And, so, the mighty grape vine evolved to became Hermaphroditic - simultaneously possessing the reproductive organs of both sexes!

So, there you go. Yet another fun fact about grape vines. Cheers!


Ever Wonder About the Life Cycle of a Wine Grape?

Well, maybe you haven't ever wondered about the life cycle of a wine grape. Wine making is typically the process that gets all of the attention. And, yes, it's amazing that grapes can be turned into such complex wines. The process of growing the grapes tends to take a backseat to the wine making process. But, it's an equally fascinating process that should not be overlooked. So, let take a look at the farming side of wine making.

Grapes are perennials. You only plant them once and they sprout, grow, bloom and produce fruit. And, they repeat that cycle year after year. 

Bare rapevines that are dormant

Bare rapevines that are dormant

So, let's jump into the cycle and start with Winter. This is the point where all the fruit has been harvested and all the leaves drop. The grape vine is bare.  This is the time when pruning is done. The canes, which are 'branches' that extend from the crown of the trunk, are cut back in order to ensure the best ones remain for the growing cycle. Not surprisingly, this is a very labor-intensive process.

Bud Break

Bud Break

In the Spring, buds begin to form on the canes. "Bud Break" is a very exciting time for grape growers as it's the first indication of the health of the coming crop. And, again, some pruning is done to ensure the vines are growing properly.



Then, Spring flowering occurs. And what's amazing is that grape vines are self-pollinating! No need for bees! I'll leave that topic for another time, but it's quite interesting how this came about.

Summer with vines full of leaves and grapes

Summer with vines full of leaves and grapes

By Summer, the flowers have become berries. Yes, grapes are berries! Now you begin to see the first signs of grape clusters. In late Summer, the green grapes being to start changing color and ripen. This is called Veraison (Verre-ray-shun). Now, the bunches of grapes take on those wonderful colors of yellow, pink, and purple.

Finally, Fall comes around and it's harvest time. Grape growers and wine makers become very focused on the sugar levels of the grapes (Brix) as they ripen. Once the grapes reach just the right level of ripeness, they are quickly harvested. Unlike other fruits, grapes don't continue to ripen once picked. So, you have to get it right.

Then, Winter comes around again, the vines lose all their leaves and the vines go dormant. And, the cycle starts all over again.

So, next time you focus your attention on a particularly wonderful wine, remember that a lot of things must have gone very well in the vineyard to produce the grapes that became the wine. Cheers!