Véraison is a viticulture term meaning “the onset of ripening”. The word is French in origin, but has been adopted into English use. The official definition of véraison is “change of color of the grape berries.” véraison represents the transition from berry growth to berry ripening, and many changes in berry development occur at véraison. It’s also what the vines at Hawk Haven have just finished going through.
That’s right, the new grapes have finished their major growth spurt, and are now focusing on changing from a tart, green acidic berry into the sweet juicy berries that we want to change into wine. The first phase of a grape’s life is marked with rapid growth and a build up of water and acids. As the grapes go through véraison and change from bright green to their ripened color, many of the acids break down and new sugars are formed and accumulate within the berry.
While the change is most noticeable in the dark skinned grapes, even the lighter colored berries go through the same process, changing from bright green to a more golden color. As the change occurs, the grapes also become more attractive to pests such as birds and insects; as the smell of the ripening grape changes from acidic to fruity and sweet. The berries themselves are now more susceptible to disease, and extra care must be taken to make sure that they all have a chance to make it into your glass.
The next part of the vineyard schedule is wrapping the vines in nets to protect against the biggest threat; birds!