September 3, 2011 | by Lisa Mattson
Veraison, the onset of ripening when red grapes change color, typically happens at Jordan vineyards every July. But during cool-climate vintages like 2011, the grapes were slower to ripen, and estate cabernet sauvignon grapes did not begin veraison until mid-August. We decided to make a time-lapse video of grape veraison that summer so you could see how long the grapes took to change from green to red. Our Canon 5D camera stayed in the vineyard during daylight and snapped photos every few hours with a remote control timer. Because we had to move the tripod for the vineyard crew’s ATV, you’ll notice a few changes in shot composition throughout the video. You even get to see the result of veraison thinning at 0:43.
There’s much more to veraison than the color change we can see with our eyes. The grapes officially stop growing during this period of their lives. Grapevines begin focusing all their energy into the existing clusters hanging on their shoots, which allows sugars to increase sugars and acids to decrease. As a general rule, once grapes complete veraison, they will be ripe and ready to harvest in about six weeks. Veraison typically takes 5-7 days to complete. You’ll notice in this video it took twice as long this year.
Both in 2010 and 2011, winemakers experienced a fairly cool summers in Sonoma County. Most days, temperatures have hovered around 10 degrees below normal. The sparkling wine harvest kicked off in neighboring Napa Valley around Labor Day in 2011–the latest harvest on record for one bubbly producer.
Capturing veraison on camera was a fun experiment for our first attempt at time lapse photography. What would you like to see us time lapse next?