Veraison . . . The Harbinger of Harvest

July 27, 2007

Ode to Veraison

Fresh and green, translucent and newNoe-us0032
Turning red . . . and then somewhat blue.
Just yesterday your berries gleamed green
Now ruby gems dangle between your leaves.

In a few short weeks you’ll be plucked from your roost
And left to ferment; your elixir-like juice.
But I know the wait ahead is long
Until I can taste the beauty of what has just begun.

Here. Now.

As your bead-like berries, green and new
Turn to red . . . and then somewhat blue.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

It may seem strange to begin a post with a poem, but veraison time just brings that out in me. “What, Lia,” you say, “IS veraison anyway?”

I’m glad you asked.Noe-us0040

In a nutshell, it’s when the grapes turn from Kelly green to either reddish-blue (for red wine grapes) or a golden hue (for white wine grapes). In French, veraison has an accent aigu over the e, which gives it the same root as the word verite—truth (as long as you have that accent in there . . . without it, ‘ver’ means worm). To me, that says it all. It’s the time when all those millions of little grapes are transforming into what they were meant to be, fulfilling their destiny. 

For those who aren’t as romantic as I am (pfuff!), the excitement around veraison comes from it being such an obvious harbinger of harvest. Vintners can plan on the grapes being ripe enough to pick roughly 45 days after their color changes hue. They’ll start testing sugar levels (brix) and other ripeness indicators almost obsessively during that window to determine the best time to pick. 

When I went out to the vineyards with Oscar yesterday to take these shots, there was already a buzz about the winery—fermentation tanks were being shined and tractors primed. Maybe I’m being overly sentimental, but I could almost hear the vines whispering to one another . . . “it’s almost time!”



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