There's never a dull moment in the life of a vintner. Our yearly harvests follow a perpetual guessing game of whether the right amount of rainfall and supplemental irrigation will nourish our vines at just the right time to yield the perfect grapes for an exceptional vintage. This delicate balance sometimes feels like walking a tightrope while simultaneously gazing into a crystal ball. But now, the 2017 harvest season in St. Helena is within sight, and the view looks spectacular. Our grapes have experienced quite a season this year, and now they're in the maturing process of veraison.
What is Veraison?
It marks the beginning of the final stage in the maturing process for grapes -- when the berries begin to change color and start to soften.
Veraison is the culmination of these stages:
Stage 1 begins at bud break in spring and goes to bloom time, before the fruit forms on the vine. The vines' water needs are relatively low during this stage, depending in large part on the stored soil moisture from winter rains. We had so much rain this past winter (after droughts in recent years) that the Napa River reached flood levels. This resulted in a higher water table than we've had in a while, which increased the soil's stored moisture levels, facilitated vine turgor, and beautifully set the stage for healthy vegetative growth.
Stage 2 begins when the grape flowers fade, and the fruit forms. It's a period of rapid growth when the grapes are firm and green. The organic acids are high, and the sugar content is low.
Stage 3 is a bit of a lag phase, as grape growth slows down and the acid level reaches its maximum concentration. Too much irrigation during this stage can stress our vines, so our viticulturists must monitor watering needs precisely.
Stage 4 is the final stage -- from veraison to harvest. During this stage, viticulturists and vintners can sense a palpable and growing excitement. Our grapes begin to lose their acidic content as the sugar concentrations accumulate. As the grapes begin to soften, they also change color. By taking advantage of our location atop Spring Mountain, I designed and constructed our winery as a gravity-flow facility. As soon as we harvest our grapes, the gravity-directed process needs minimal intervention to process the fruit gently. The result is a superior juice because of the reduced tannic acid levels.
2017 Sherwin Family Vineyards Wine Forecast
With our grapes transitioning from veraison to harvest our grapes are poised to make 2017 one of our best years!
If you have any questions about the wine making process at our St Helena winery or would like to visit our tasting rooms please contact us at Sherwin Family Vineyards.