When the vines wake up from their winter rest, first of all, they endeavour to develop their herbaceous organs (twigs, leaves, flowers and green clusters). Then, all of a sudden, there is a tipping point and all its attention is focused on its bunches.
It’s a magical time in the vineyards and an important stage because it allows us to understand the harvest date.
"Pintor” (the Painter), the Portuguese word for "Veraison”, is a French viticulture term meaning the start of ripening. This stage is characterized by the change in colour of the grape berries as the vineyards begin to explode with fruit colour.
Just before "veraison”, the berries are small, hard, very acidic and green in colour, due to the presence of chlorophyll. It is at this time that, when necessary, we do a green harvest, where some excess production is removed of the vine so that it may concentrate its energy on the remaining grapes.
During the "veraison”, the colour change in grapes transforms the colour of the white grapes into a soft, translucent, golden yellow colour, while our red grapes will be visually more dramatic, transitioning from a similar green colour to red and purple.
But the change in the colour of the grapes is only part of the story. June and July offer our vines an abundance of long days and bright sunshine. That sunlight, collected by the lustful and diligent foliage, gives the plant energy. Indeed, the herbaceous organs that have accumulated that energy, will become poorer in favour of the grapes due to an intense migration of sugars to the berries resulting in a rapid sugar increase that, in the end, will reach in average 200g/L.
At the same time of the sugars accumulation, organic acids break down and berries change from being very acidic to tasting fruitier and more complex. Meanwhile, they also start to develop aroma compounds. Also, the changing colour (anthocyanin) and development of other polyphenols acts as a protector of the grapes from sun, wind and other stresses.
It is now a question of accumulating reserves in order to ripen the grapes and soon, we will be walking through the vineyards’ rows and will be tasting grapes to determine if they are ready to pick, or if they will benefit from more hang time on the vines.
See it for yourself! Come to our vineyards in the summer! Veraison starts in mid-July in the Northern Hemisphere!