Page Slowly they turn…

That faint thud you just heard was my jaw hitting the terroir when I returned home from a quick vacation to find colour, yes colour, in my Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.  It seems eerily too early.  The race is on, it’s veraison.

veraison in Pinot

Veraison is the physiological stage of grape development where the hard, green berries finally soften and start to accumulate sugars and gradually turn colour.  That first flash of colour is always a “noose tightener” of sorts, in that so many jobs need to be squeezed in before the imminent harvest.  In early years such as this one, we are already fighting to keep the clusters exposed and canopy trimmed, but now it is even more important.  Recent studies out of Cornell University have shown that longer fruit exposure to sun can decrease methoxypyrazine levels (green, vegetal characters) in late ripening varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

Slowly they turn...

Coloured berries also attract hungry birds, so our protective netting needs to be put up as soon as the hedging, leaf removal and cluster thinning is complete.  I honestly can’t decide if I’m excited or horrified at the prospect of working every day for the next three months.  I reassure myself that we go through the same song and dance every year, but that doesn’t seem to quell my uneasiness.  Amid the vineyard duties, we have to squeeze in a bottling run and get all tanks and crush equipment ready for the first fruit of the season.

Just as my anxiety peaks, the faint light at the end of the tunnel begins to emerge.  “Push on lad!”, I tell myself.  Pluck a few more leaves, thin a few more bunches, finish one more row.  Visions of brilliant autumn colours and cozy fall clothes begin to warm my thoughts.  The thrill and challenge of ripening Shiraz emboldens me.  I can taste that luscious free run juice now!

Bring on veraison!

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