by Beth Heiserman
It is the fourth stage, then comes harvest!
Currently, we are in the veraison stage. This is the stage before harvest. After “fruit set,” the red grapes varietals are green and still hard, sugar is still very low and the acidity is high. Veraison is the ripening stage of the grapes. I was thrilled to see recently our award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon start to turn to a ruby red. The change of color is due to the chlorophyll in the skin of the red grapes being replaced by anthocyanins. (Anthocyanin is a water-soluble pigment that gives flowers or fruit their colors, ranging from red to blue.) The grapes start to ripen, sugar levels increase and acidity decreases. Within a week of the start of this stage, you can see tremendous change in this interesting transition of colors from green to red. Even the green grapes turn an amber color. This process can sometimes take up to 45 days. Because of the heat wave we have had for the last month, we are seeing that they have been maturing slightly faster.
A small berry has a better skin to juice ratio and ensures a better concentration of flavor and structure, something that’s very important in quality winemaking. Every grape varietal goes through a different time span from veraison to harvest, just like any other fruit or vegetable. Grapes are no different. For instance, we harvest our Chardonnay usually the second or third week of August. This year, we are still at least two weeks from starting. This should be followed by Muscat, Merlot, Syrah, and then finally, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Every day this week, when I arrived at the vineyard, I stopped to walk through the Cabernet Sauvignon before I started to work. This year, the Cabernet berries are a little smaller than the Merlot or Syrah, but the vines are definitely full of beautiful grapes. This month, on August 25 for #CabernetDay, I will be previewing our 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Our estate Cabernet Sauvignon is robust, aromatic and complex. It exhibits black cherry and blackcurrant fruit with a touch of black pepper on the palate. It is a full-bodied wine with distinctive ripe black cherry and blackcurrant taste to your palate. We aged this vintage for 23 months in French oak barrels. Only 48 cases were produced. Enjoy this delicious wine with prime rib topped with horseradish or a chocolate soufflé for dessert. Come enjoy this very limited wine with us.