July in the Vineyard: When the Grapes Begin to Take Shape

Veraison.

It’s a French term, and it signals the beginning of ripening in the vineyard.

This typically begins in late July, although it can kick off earlier in the month depending on weather patterns.

It’s a time when the green, pea-sized berries on the vines begin to swell. soften and sweeten. They also begin to change color.

Chardonnay grapes start to develop a golden hue.

Varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon gradually turn from green to deep purple.

The process is called “coloring up” by grape growers and vintners, and generally takes about 40 days from start to finish — again, depending on the weather.

In years when the potential crop is large, another important step is taken: The fruit on the vines is thinned. This serves to promote even, full ripening of the remaining clusters.

July is one of the most important months of the year in the vineyard. The vines are constantly being monitored to ensure that veraison is proceeding on schedule.

It’s a word that, in any language, is taken seriously by growers and vintners.

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