San Luis Obispo Wine Country: Veraison of Pinot Noir

It’s mid July, and as we look onto our estate vineyards, we see our Pinot Noir clusters turning from a youthful shade of green to its classic purplish hue.  What does this mean in the world of viticulture?  Well, it’s a clear indication that veraison has started.  This French term means the “onset of ripening” in the vineyard.  From here on out, the sugars in the grapes (in the form of glucose and fructose) will start to accumulate, the berries will soften, and the anthocynins (which gives the grapes its red color) will continue developing within the skins.

What’s interesting is just how early verasion has occurred.  This stage of a vineyard’s annual growth cycle typically begins in the later part of July/early August.  Ever since our warm, dry winter the vineyards in the Edna Valley have been ahead of schedule all year.  So it wasn’t much of a surprise when we started noticing signs of versaison around 4th of July.

Though our young Estate Pinot Noir vineyard is looking healthy, we must continue working in the vineyard to ensure a bountiful harvest.  Our newly appointed Assistant Winemaker, Zack Geers, has been leaf pulling this week to give better ventilation and fruit exposure to each vine.  He has also dropped any excess clusters that might be bunched too closely together.   This is an important process, allowing for vines/fruit to acquire the right amount of nutrients and also reducing the risk of bunch rot.