Vineyard Year – Veraison
Véraison, is the point in the year – around August – when the grape berry growth phase changes to a ripening phase. The malic acid content of the grape diminishes, to be replaced by increasing levels of sugar. The berries visibly begin to change colour, soften and as ripening continues, the fruit characteristic changes from acidic to the taste, too sweet with fruity aromas, which makes the grapes attractive to animals, another source of constant worry to the vineyard owner.
Our vineyard is surrounded by humane electric fencing to discourage inquisitive deer, overhead we fly numerous kites attached to helium balloons to ward off raiding flocks of birds and Hamish, the vineyard dog sees to the rest of the pest population! Through August to October, the vagaries of the weather play a crucial role in determining the ultimate quality and yield. A great vintage needs a dry, hot summer with plenty of sunshine and a little rain. The vine’s leaves are now acting as natures solar panels, photosynthesising as they sway in the summer sun and their supporting vertical shoots which have grown to around 1meter in length, must now be carefully controlled within the trellising, to ensure an even canopy which allows enough ventilation to maintain the health of the vine and avoid any outbreak of much dreaded botrytis.
As we listen to the distant backdrop of cricket being played on the village green, leaf thinning, through a process known as ‘leaf stripping’ and pruning of the leaf canopy are high on our daily agenda. Our leaf trimmer is busily employed producing those evocative avenues of vines that are so characteristic of any perfectly manicured vineyard. Though cosmetically pleasing to the eye, this is more essential to ensure the removal of excess foliage which could compromise the characteristics of the grapes harvested.. Many a short break is taken amidst the work, to admire for a moment this perfect scene from a favourite vantage point. The grapes are plentiful and ripening, excitement and anticipation of the coming harvest is building.
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