We have veraison at Ponzi Vineyards!
Veraison (“verr-ray-zohn”) is technically defined as the change of color of grape berries. However, it also represents the transitional period from berry growth to berry ripening and the changes occuring during that time.
One of the most important moments in a grapevine’s annual lifecycle, veraison signals the onset of ripening, when the grapes turn from green to red and begin to sweeten. The process also occurs in white grapes in a less visually dramatic way, with grapes turning from green to golden and becoming more translucent.
During veraison, the vine alters its focus from creating energy through photosynthesis to consuming energy in order to make sweet grapes. The vine transports its energy stores from the roots into the grapes. The chlorophyll in the grapes is replaced by anthocyanins (in red grapes) or carotenoids (in white grapes), as well as sugars and other nutrients. As these sugars accumulate and aroma compounds develop, the grapes begin to increase in size. Acid levels also begin to fall during this time.
Once veraison begins, the ripening process continues for another 30-70 days until the grapes are fully ready. The time required for ripening varies by grape type. For example, Pinot gris typically ripens much earlier than Pinot noir.
Some grape varieties have bunches that ripen unevenly; some berries on the cluster will be completely ripe while others are still green. Extreme uneven ripening is called millerandage and can lead to wines that smell sweet but taste unbalanced and “green”. It happens commonly in Pinot noir, which is why it takes skill and experience to craft wine from this grape. Luckily for Ponzi Vineyards, Winemaker Luisa Ponzi knows exactly what she’s doing and consistently produces exemplary Pinot noir year after year.
You can view veraison for yourself: our tasting room is surrounded by our Avellana vineyard. Avellana has been planted Clonal Massale™, an innovative planting technique pioneered by Luisa Ponzi in which more than 20 clones have been planted randomly throughout the vineyard blocks like wildflowers. They ripen at different times, but are harvested all at once. The diversity of clones creates balance and depth in the finished wines and creates a consistency from year to year that adjusts for vintage variability and shifts the focus to the unique terroir of the site. Veraison is the perfect time to view the diversity of the clones at Avellana, and you can do so from the comfort of our tasting room’s terrace with a glass of Pinot in hand.
Read along as we follow the vineyard throughout the year in The Vineyard Series: