Jeff’s Corner 7-1-22

“This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me.”

What inspiring words from the great Woody Guthrie to begin a long Fourth of July weekend. “This Land is Your Land” was written in 1940, and recorded in 1944. Give it a listen if you get a chance.

Today, we’ll talk about “veraison,” which will be the fourth chapter in our series about the life cycle of a grape vine.

Veraison (vay-ray-ZON) marks the turning point in the two cycles of a grape cluster’s journey to harvest. The first cycle is a growth phase, and ends when the grape reaches full size and cell division in the skin stops. During the growth cycle, all grapes (red and white) are the same color (the Lima bean green you see) and are hard (like a marble) in texture.

Once the grapes reach full size, the ripening phase begins with veraision, which translates from French as “change of color of the grape berries”. They also begin to soften and become pliant.

For the next six weeks or so, the sugars will increase as the acids decrease, and harvest will occur when the sugars are about 25% of the juice, or 25 degrees brix in wine lingo.

Ideally, during the ripening phase, we want a combination of warm (hot) days and cool nights. These are called diurnal temperature swings, and the greater the disparity the better.

During the day, when it’s hot, sugars develop in the fruit at the expense of the acids. At night, when it cools down, the rate at which the acids convert to sugar slows way down, allowing the grapes to ripen more slowly and hang on the vine longer. That’s a good thing.

Finally, here’s a really cool bonus, a current update on our Estate vineyards from our vineyard manager extraordinaire, Clint Messimer.

“The crop this year is going to be a little light in the Chenin, Aglianico, Petite Sirah and Tannat. Partly because some of the canopies are not large enough to support a crop due to such a lack of rainfall, and partly because of very small berries – a good thing – for the same reason. The Petite Sirah, Malbec, and Cab Sauv. have begun veraison. Cab Franc, Malbec, and Cab Sauv. all look excellent, and we should all get a full crop for this first Bordeaux harvest. We have finished leaf removal and are getting to the tail end of fruit thinning.”

Have a safe holiday weekend, everyone, and be sure to buy your hot doggies and buns before they’re sold out…