Veraison Signifies Harvest Season is Near
Summertime is when the rubber hits the road in the vineyard, starting with a process called veraison—a French word, pronounced like “ver-EY-shun,” that signifies the onset of grape ripening.
To explain veraison, let us back up a bit. After bud break, flowering and fruit set in the spring, the grapes begin growing into hard green berries. At this point, these young grapes taste extremely tart, and their texture is tough.
Come July, however, things begin to change as veraison kicks in. The grapes turn color and transition from the growth phase to the ripening phase. With red grape varieties, the green fruit transforms to purple. With white varieties, you start to see more golden yellow. In other words, they finally start to look like classic wine grapes.
During veraison, the grapes also begin developing sugar. The tart acidity diminishes, and the pH rises. The skins and seeds start to soften. At the end of veraison, the color transformation is complete, and the grapes are on their way to becoming sweet and juicy.
You could compare it to a green banana in your kitchen. As it ripens and turns yellow, it gets sweeter and softer and less acidic. That is similar to what happens to the grapes during veraison.
Veraison usually takes around two weeks from start to finish for a given grape variety. However, different grape varieties go through veraison at different times. A late ripening grape like Cabernet Sauvignon is usually one of the last varieties to complete veraison. By early August, however, all of the grapes have made the transition.
For me, veraison is when the growing season really kicks into high gear. It is the turning point. I love seeing veraison, because it means that the harvest season is coming (and so is football season!). Even though harvest is a lot of work, I always look forward to it. I like to get on with it, and to get the job done.
Every year and without fail, you can count on veraison to pave the way for the harvest season to come.
- Viticulturist Sukhy Sran