Bud Burst, Flowering, Fruit Set, Veraison…
Those are the four main stages of grape development. While February to April is the busiest time of year in the wine industry there is still plenty to do in the months leading up to harvest time.
The grape starts its cycle in spring with bud burst which usually occurs around the beginning of September. After bud burst, the young shoots are very vulnerable to frost damage so Travis, our vineyard manager, will go to great lengths to protect the vines at this fragile stage.
Next, we have the flowering phase. Flowering will start to occur around November and is a vital time in the grapes’ life. It is at this stage that the pollination and fertilization takes place resulting in the production of a grape! Would you believe it if I told you that wine grapevines (Vitis Vinifera) are hermaphroditic? Well, it’s true. Most Vitis Vinifera vines contain both male and female parts which allow them to self-pollinate without much, if any, help from wind or insects.
After flowering we have fruit set (Exciting times!). Fruit set occurs almost immediately after flowering, but not every flower on the vine gets fertilized. This is when Travis will be able to start to make predictions about the crop yield for this year. We also want little to no rain from this point forward, so cross your fingers and pray to the rain gods for us! We’d love another hot, dry vintage like 2014.
Veraison, ah, veraison… Now we’re talking. This is when the magic happens. Just after fruit set, the berries are green and hard with very little sugar and high acid content. Within six days of the start of veraison, the berries begin to grow dramatically as they accumulate glucose and fructose (sugar) and the acids begin to fall. We also start to see the colour change from green into red/purple or yellow/green depending on the varieties.
We are currently in the veraison stage and everything is looking great. So, now we wait (not so patiently) for the vines to do their thing which will take about 40-50 days. Bring on Vintage 2016!