Veraison reminds us of watching a person grow from child to adult in one season. The fruit changes from skinny, scraggly blossoms to firm, green clusters to ripe, mature berries. Like childhood, it happens so fast you could get whiplash, yet the daily search for a berry, a cluster or the first blush of color seems eternal.
The vineyard is now near 70 percent in color. We expect the vines to spend all their time ripening the fruit, yet they still stubbornly continue to stretch out the young tendrils toward the sun. We’ve done everything we can think of to reduce their vigor including hedging and cutting back on irrigation.
The shoots are also going through a lignification process, which means they are turning brown from the base and becoming tough and woody. This is comforting because, in the spring, the tender shoots were very delicate and were easily snapped off the vine if we weren’t careful.
The second crop we talked about last year is already making a strong appearance, showing bright green among the darkening clusters. Second crop is often removed so that they don’t steal away the carbohydrates the vine needs to complete the ripening process of the main crop, but we won't be removing it. Any cutting would only add more vigor to our already vigorous vines, and, with harvest already underway in some places, we're not sure we could find the crew.
With the return of cool, foggy mornings and hot, dry afternoons, this year’s harvest should be another spectacular event.