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Veraison Starts in California Vineyards. What Does it Mean?


July 15, 2016 — According to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG), veraison, an annual benchmark in the winegrape growing season, is officially underway. Known as the onset of ripening, veraison marks the colorful transition from grape growth to grape ripening, resulting in several changes in fruit development. They not only change color, but they begin to increase in weight and volume as well.

Most dramatically, red winegrapes slowly turn from green to red and purple while white winegrapes change from green to a golden yellow, becoming more translucent. This process occurs over a lengthy period of time and each grape variety ripens at a different rate.

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers, a non-profit industry organization, are happy with what they are seeing in the vineyards so far this season as are other wine growing regions around the state.  With the California wine industry hitting a new high in 2015 of 229 million cases shipped domestically, valued at $31.9 billion at retail, a bumper crop will keep the pipeline filled.  California wines comprise 60 per cent of the wine market in the U.S.

Vineyard managers don’t have time to celebrate yet.  As the NVG points out, vine growth is robust and grape growers are actively caring for leaf canopies to prevent sunburn and managing the vineyard floor to minimize weeds, vineyard pests, and hold on to the remaining moisture that exists in the soil profile.

With harvest typically occurring 60-75 days from 50% veraison, growers anticipate that the 2016 harvest could begin as early as mid-August.