Veraison: the onset of ripening and the change of color of the grape berries. The term is originally French (véraison), but has been adopted into English use.
We’ve reached a beautiful turning point here in Dry Creek Valley – veraison. With this change in color, eager winegrowers and winemakers can see the culmination of the previous 9-months transform into the 2016 vintage. Excited to sneak a peek, we asked our vineyard members, Bob & Joyce Littell of Treborce Vineyards if we could come learn more about the process. Treborce Vineyards is home to beautiful gardens, 2 German Shorthaired Pointers (Woody & Dee Dee) and acres of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah that are used in many highly regarded and award winning wines in the industry. To learn more about Treborce Vineyards, you can visit our past interview with them from 2014.
On the tour Bob Littell first stops in his Petite Sirah vineyard, which boasts nearly purple bunches. In comparison to his Zinfandel grapes, they are further ahead in this transformation. More typically, Sauvignon Blanc is the first to greet veraison and the first to be harvested, while Zinfandel takes more time on the vine to develop its rich and deep flavors. In this case, Petite Sirah falls somewhere in the middle.
Interesting to note though is that some of Littell’s Zinfandel vines, in the same block, for that matter, aren’t all at the same veraison point yet. Some vines are 12% changing and others are well over 75%. There are many factors that contribute to this and growers like Littell go through many tests to see what the vines may be lacking or getting too much of and how to adjust accordingly. Vines seem to have their own unique personality just like the growers and winemakers of Dry Creek Valley.
Veraison doesn’t just affect the color of the grapes, but also the texture and taste. The grapes will get juicier and more voluptuous. And the fruit will get sweeter and more complex. In the vineyard we sampled some grapes, still sour but getting closer to world class wines and worlds different from the green grapes yet to begin the veraison process.
Littell hopes for a more bountiful harvest this year than last which was about 30% lower than average. The increase in rain was great for vine growth. The 2016 Vintage has so far been a great growing year and has many winemaker’s mouths watering with anticipation. And the winegrowers are gearing up for harvest just around the corner. You can find Treborce Vineyard grapes in many recognized Dry Creek Valley labels such as Wilson Winery and Mauritson Family Vineyards.
Stay tuned. Our next stop – harvest!
Thanks and gratitude to Bob and Joyce Littell for welcoming us into their vineyards and for always being a wealth of knowledge on all things wine and Dry Creek Valley.