August began with a scorching sun. The summer winds make people restless, but in the vineyard, changes are always happening.
Right now, grapes are at a crucial turning point: véraison, which marks the first stage of their ripening process. What exactly is “véraison” ? Read on!
Véraison is coming
In the Northern hemisphere, “véraison” generally occurs from July to September. This French word describes the time when the grapes change their color. At this point, in order to improve the irradiation area and promote grape coloring, it will be useful to remove some leaves (also known as “summer pruning”).
The essence of “véraison” is the process of continuous accumulation of anthocyanins. Anthocyanidin in grapes combines with sugar to make grapes change color.
During “véraison”, black grapes varieties switch from green to red and finally to purple/black; while the skin of white grapes will gradually become transparent, revealing a golden color.
In addition to the color shift, the grape evolves rapidly, fills with water, and changes texture from firm to plump, soft, and juicy.
It is worth mentioning that during this period, the acidity of the grapes will gradually decrease, the sugar will start to increase, and the tannins and aromatic substances will also gradually become richer.
All the developments happening during “véraison” will be reflected in the wine. Experienced winemakers can judge the quality of the wines by observing the grapes during this period.
Preparing the harvest
A month later, in September, it's usually time for harvest! The vineyards are fragrant and the grapes are ripe and sweet, ready to be turned into wine.
When grapes are fully ripe, there will be a visible white frost, or fruit powder, on the grape skins. The grape stems and seeds will change from green to brown. This method can be used to determine the picking time.
Of course, winemakers will also decide when grapes are ripe by tasting them; unripe grapes are very sour and astringent, while riper grapes are sweet. Another way, and accurate method is to use scientific instruments to measure the sugar content of the grapes.
Henri Jayer, legendary Burgundian winemaker, used his famous method “90 jours fleurs passées”, which means that he always harvested exactly 90 days once the flowers have all become fruits.
Once you have determined the date of your harvest, it's time to get to pick the grapes, whether by hand (more respectful to the vines) or using machines that cause vibrations to dislodge the grapes (only possible on flat terrains).
How about witnessing these exciting vineyard activities for real? Follow us to Yunnan next month to visit the region’s top wineries, taste their finest wines and experience the joy of harvest in the autumn season!
Founded in 2018 by Matthieu Ventelon, Hedonia is the first institution in China combining professional Wine and Etiquette expertise in the same training offer.
Find more information on our website : http://en.hedonia.cn