It’s that time of year in Prince Edward County — harvest season is on the horizon! Did you know that the onset of the grapes ripening has its own name? Veraison is when the grapes start to change colour, and literally means “change of colour of the grape berries”, and well, that’s a pretty accurate and simple description of what’s happening.
So what is exactly happening during Veraison?
Have you ever had a grape that hasn’t ripened yet? It probably tasted pretty bitter, and something you won’t be recommending to your friends. During Veraison, the sugar levels rise and the acid levels decline. In other words, the grapes start to get sweeter, softer and bigger. White grapes will start to take on a golden hue, while red grapes will finally start to show their purple colour (hello, Pinot Noir). The changes that happen to the grapes during this time greatly determine the final outcome of the wine. The whole process can take anywhere from four to six weeks, and is dependent on the weather, crop size, and the grape varietal.
It is an exciting, but busy time for those working at a winery because timing is everything leading up to harvest. In cool climates like Prince Edward County, there is a lot of unpredictability in the weather. On top of the weather, have you ever noticed the loud cannon sounds coming from the vineyards this time of year? What about the decorative scarecrows or shiny ribbons flying in the wind? With the grapes’ fruit getting sweeter (aka tastier), grape growers also have to protect the grapes from birds and other nibbling critters. Grape growers are constantly monitoring the vineyard, and the state of the grapes with the onset of Veraison.
August and September are great times to come visit the wineries in Prince Edward County to see the grapes in all their glory on the vines before they get ready to be harvested. Harvest can happen any time from mid-September to October in the County, with grapes being made into sparkling wine typically harvested first, and the rest to follow.
When are the grapes ready for harvest?
It is truly up to the winemaker and their palate to determine when the grapes have reached the right ripeness to be picked. The flavour of the grapes can vary depending on the season leading up to Veraison, the current heat levels, and of course the terroir, which varies even between vineyards in Prince Edward County.
We will be watching our grapes closely over the coming weeks, and hopefully we will be sharing the beginnings of harvest with you during our next update. For real time updates you can follow us @traynorvineyard.