Awaiting Veraison

Grapes beginning to ripen at La Gracia Vineyard

What’s happening in the field? Well, it’s crazy to think that we are now only 2 months away from starting harvest.  We historically harvest Sauvignon Blanc in the first week of September, followed by the fruit that we pick for sparkling wine & our Nouveau pick.  So it’s all hands on deck now!

We have removed leaves at both La Esperanza and La Gracia vineyards. All of the fruit is set & now we are waiting for veraison. Veraison is the stage in a grapevine’s growth when the berries transition from being small, hard, and green to becoming larger, softer, and beautifully colored. It’s kind of like the turning point in the grape’s life, where it starts to show its true potential! The photo below is veraison in action at our La Gracia vineyard last August.


Grapes in veraison at La Gracia Vineyard in 2022

During veraison, which usually occurs in late summer or early autumn, the grape berries go through some remarkable changes. For starters, they begin to accumulate sugar, which is pretty important for making tasty wine. This is why winemakers & vineyard owners keep a close eye on veraison, as they want to make sure the grapes reach the desired sugar levels for the wine they’re aiming to produce.

But it’s not just about sugar. Veraison is also when the grapes start to develop their characteristic colors. If you’ve ever noticed a bunch of grapes with both green & purple berries, you’re likely witnessing veraison in action. The green grapes begin to turn red, purple, or even black, depending on the grape variety. White grapes such as Riesling & Sauvignon Blanc will go through veraison as well! These grapes turn from green to a more translucent, golden color on the vine as shown in the photo below.

Now, here’s a fun fact: the color change during veraison is due to pigments called anthocyanins. These pigments are responsible for the lovely hues you see in red & purple grapes. They also contribute to the wine’s color & can even affect its flavor as well as aroma. So, veraison is like nature’s way of adding a touch of artistry to the grapevine’s journey.

Riesling Grapes from La Gracia Vineyard in 2022

Another significant transformation during veraison is the softening of the grape berries. They become less firm & more pliable to the touch, indicating that they’re ripening. The graphic below from Wine Folly shows a nice visual of the grape ripening process! This change in texture is crucial for winemakers because it affects how the grapes are handled during harvest. Soft grapes can be more easily pressed or crushed to extract the juice, which is the first step in winemaking.

Veraison doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a gradual process that occurs over several weeks. Different berries on the same cluster or even different clusters on the same vine can reach veraison at slightly different times. It adds to the beauty and complexity of grape growth.

So, next time you’re visiting Modales during late summer or early autumn, take a moment to appreciate veraison. It really is a remarkable & beautiful stage where grapes transform from simple green orbs to vibrant, sweet, & colorful treasures, ready to be turned into the wines we love.

 Don’t forget to book your Modales Estate Tour this summer to learn about & witness these fun stages of grape growing for yourself!

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