Veraison is a French word that means, in the world of viticulture, 'the beginning of ripening'.
The word has however been adopted into viticultural English and is regarded as an important milestone in the grape growing season.
Veraison is the time when the grape berry has stopped growing and the ripening process starts. The visible indication of this phase is the change of colour of red grapes from green to red (anthocyanin formation) and white grapes from green to yellowish (carotenoid formation).
The berries also change chemically with acids being degraded and sugars accumulated while herbaceous aromas degrade and fruity aromas start to develop.
Due to the cooler summer this season the onset of veraison is a little later than normal. Theory has it that slower ripening and lower ambient temperatures will improve the quality of the grapes.
As a result of all this, harvest will be delayed for a few weeks. We can only hope that heavy rain, which has also been an integral part of this summer, stays away for the next few months.
We don't need the juice diluted and the grapes put under any disease pressure.
So far in our little vineyard, we have seen veraison in the Pinot Noir (picture) and the Tempranillo.
Surprisingly there has been no sign as yet in the Semillon which is regarded as an early ripening variety. Another indication of the lack of ripeness of the Semillon is that the birds have not yet taken to eating the few bunches which are growing through the netting.
The later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon has a bit of a way to go yet.
So it's time to start cleaning up the wine making equipment and think about bottling last year's vintage to make room in the tanks for the new.