Veraison Underway in Napa Valley

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 also begin to increase in weight, volume, and sugar content.

“Reports of veraison have started to come in, and the upcoming warm weather will surely accelerate ripening. Crop size seems healthy, and we are hopeful for another outstanding vintage,” said Matt Reid, winemaker at Benessere Vineyards and NVG member.

Benessere Vineyards, photo credit: Geoff Hansen Photography

Vineyard managers will now be monitoring veraison daily as 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, and each grape variety ripens at a different rate.

Veraison commences the official countdown until harvest. “Right now, we are about a week plus behind last year, and that could change depending on the weather over the next few weeks,” noted Brittany Pederson, viticulturist at Silverado Farming Company and NVG member. Reid added, “At this point, we expect an average harvest time, which will be a difference from the last few years.”

Growers throughout Napa Valley agree that the 2017 growing season marks a return to more normal years of the past. The wet winter this year helped reset the vines’ timing back to a slightly more typical schedule, resulting in rapid, lush vine growth that has required careful management.

During this point in the growing season, growers are actively maintaining grape and vine health by leafing – a key tool to for maximizing quality, minimizing disease pressure, and preventing sunburn. The vineyard floor is sometimes cultivated to minimize weeds, vineyard pests, and to hold on to the remaining moisture that exists in the soil profile.

“It’s been a busy growing season, and overall, clusters are looking great – full, even, and healthy; particularly, for Cabernet Sauvignon, which had a good set. We’re looking forward the 2017 harvest,” said Pederson.

While there are still several weeks ahead until harvest, it appears to be shaping up to be another excellent vintage for 2017.