Veraison in the Vineyard: A Sure Sign that Harvest Is Near
by Quincy Barton, Vineyard Manager
Veraison, or the beginning of ripening, has started in our vineyards. The Fall Creek team couldn’t be more excited to be on our way to a very fruitful harvest! The grape vines have been going through critical growing states over the past few weeks with the grapes transitioning from a state of growth into the ripening phase. This shift into veraison is marked by a ceasing of grape berry development followed by the accumulation of color within the clusters. The previously monochromatic green vineyard is now studded with a beautiful array of purples and pinks, creating a romantic atmosphere for the visitors at the winery.
With the tremendous amount of early season rains this year, the vines have been incredibly productive. We have had substantial shoot growth throughout the entire growing season. Now as the composition of the berry’s changes the vines begin to transition from a focus of energy production to energy utilization. In other words, the vine’s metabolism starts to move sugars toward the clusters. The conversion of green to purple clusters in red varieties is due to the shift of the cell’s stores of chlorophyll to anthocyanins (a flavonoid in the grapes that contains antioxidant effects). Anthocyanins create a purple pigmentation in the skins of the grape. In white varieties, the chlorophyll converts to carotenoids, giving off a lighter pigmentation than in red grapes.
Veraison brings on more than just a color change. With ripening, the acid in the berries begins to diminish as the sugar levels inversely rise. The goal is to find a great balance of acid and sugars in the grapes at harvest. With the increase in sugar levels, the grapes are more palatable, and unfortunately become a delicious treat for birds and other pests as well.
As the mad dash towards harvest begins, our main focus becomes pest control and a close management of the irrigation schedule. We wrap row after row of vines in bird netting. This is the protective standard among vineyards in this phase of the growing season and as such, it is quite common to see nets draped across the vineyards all over Texas.
This magical time of year paves the way for harvest, when all of the long hours and hard work in the vineyard begin to come to fruition for this vintage.
If you are as excited about the upcoming harvest as we are, join us for our Harvest Kick-Off Party on Sunday, July 28 at our Driftwood location. We’ll celebrate with delicious wine, and food available from Garbo's Lobster Truck and The Bearded Baking Company. We’ll see you there. More information is available here: https://fcv.com/events.