Actually, time started a couple weeks ago, but I just liked the sound of the title. And, I’m a little behind due to an unplanned vacation- but to the matter at hand. “Time for what?” you may ask. Why, time to start counting down to harvest, of course! Two weeks ago, we started seeing veraison in the vineyards, when the fruit starts to soften up and the color changes from green to either gold/yellow or red/purple. That’s the dumbed down version, but since I know all of my readers can handle (and dying to hear) the technical explanation, I will oblige. So…technically, the color change is the grape skin losing chlorophyll and beginning to churn out the phenolic compounds responsible for the white varietals (flavonols) and the red varietals (anthocyanins). Inside the grape, the TA starts decreasing, pH and sugars start to increase. The berries are still increasing in size, so we slow down the watering. Piece of cake, right?
Right now, we are anywhere from 20%-80% through veraison, in both red and white varietals.
Clusters on the riper end
These ones not so much
Now is the time we go through the blocks where veraison started earliest (Sangiovese, Syrah, and Viognier) and begin dropping the clusters that are predominantly green. As I’ve said in a previous post, we do this to insure the fruit has all ripened at the same rate. We also take this opportunity to de-bunch (separate clusters so they aren’t touching), do some weak shoot fruit removal, and remove any burned clusters. We’ve had two strong heatwaves that hammered the vineyards, however, with night temperature dropping into the low 60’s, the vines did not shut down.
The sacrifices we make for a pesky thing called quality
But, what does this all mean? It means that we are looking at a start date for harvest the last week of August, first week of September. So, pretty much in line with how the growing season has gone. The tonnage is better than last year, with loose clusters and berries on the smaller side, but more berries and higher cluster counts. Just one more month!
A big thanks to Kathryn for contributing a few pieces for me so you didn’t think I totally fell off the face of the Earth! I plan on trying to be more consistent in my posts, however, I will be having mini retreats springing from my unplanned chemo vacation. But, with harvest coming, we’ll all have to bring our A games!