Summer is in full swing here at Bartholomew Estate. We are currently about halfway through veraison, which is when the grapes begin to mature. For red varieties, they both soften and turn color, first from green to pink and then to fully purple. With white varieties, they only soften at this point, and will remain green until close to harvest when they will become beautifully golden.
Ripening is a slow process, due to our almost daily morning fog in the summer, but this is how we like it. This year the “June Gloom” happened more in July than June, and we are now heading into “Fogust” so we’ve had lots of cool, overcast mornings that give way to warm, sunny afternoons. This helps the grapes retain their natural acidity and develop their full array of flavors.
The timing of veraison gives us an estimate of when harvest will arrive; it’s usually around six weeks from the halfway point to when it’s time to pick. This assumes that a lot of variables fall into place as normal, which rarely happens, but it’s a good rule of thumb. Come September, which is often the hottest month of the year, ripening will near completion and it will be time for crush.
Once veraison is complete, we will begin to regularly sample the grapes and check their sugar, acid, and pH. These indicators of ripeness give us a more precise idea as to when it will be time to start harvest, but the only way to know for sure is to taste. It’s only when the flavors are there in the grapes that we can be sure they will translate to the resulting wines. Flavor is everything.