So after the ‘wacky weather’ we had earlier in the year, our climate seems to have settled down into a more usual pattern and thus our stress levels are returning to normal! At the height of our stress we pictured the harvest starting before the end of July, but that is just not going to happen. Mother nature has settled our nerves by the fact that the early vine varieties are only just beginning their véraison.
Véraison is essentially the beginning of the ripening process, when the berries turn from hard green to soft purple or golden yellow/green depending on variety. The berries get bigger, begin to accumulate sugar and acidity starts to drop. Factors affecting véraison include the weather of course, but also the aspect of the vineyard and position of the vine. The end vines are more exposed to the sun for example thus are likely to begin véraison first. The management of the canopy is also a factor as those grapes shaded by a heavy, humid canopy will take longer to go through véraison than those where the canopy has been lifted to ensure exposure to the sun and circulation of air amongst the berries.
In general terms it takes around 40 days from the start of véraison to harvesting. What we need now is for the warm, dry weather that we have been enjoying to continue during this crucial ripening period. The weather however is never possible to control and we can see that there are storms forecast for next week! Forecasts change and storms are usually very localised, but it is not good for those stress levels, which have just begun rising again!