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A Steady Start to Veraison Napa Valley Grapegrowers Looking Forward to the 2018 Harvest

Veraison in a Pinot Noir, Carneros AVA vineyard. photo credit: Brittany Pederson, Reterina Vineyard Management

NAPA, CA (July 20, 2018) – According to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG), veraison, an annual benchmark in the winegrape growing season, is officially underway. Known as the onset of ripening, veraison marks the colorful transition from grape growth to grape ripening, resulting in several changes in fruit development.  They not only change color, but they also begin to increase in weight, volume, and sugar content.

“Reports of veraison are starting to come in.  According to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers’ weather alert system, the temperature forecast for the next 10 days is averaging in the high 80s to mid-90s, so we’ll continue to see veraison at a steady rate throughout Napa Valley,” said Brittany Pederson, director of viticulture at Renteria Vineyard Management and NVG member.

Vineyard managers will now be monitoring veraison daily as red winegrapes slowly turn from green to red and purple while white winegrapes change from green to a golden yellow, becoming more translucent. This process occurs over a lengthy period, and each grape variety ripens at a different rate.

“Since Napa has distinct micro-climates, veraison lasts over a long period. Typically, the first signs (of veraison) take place where thinner-skinned, earlier-ripening varieties are grown,” noted Pederson.

Veraison commences the official countdown until harvest. “Right now, we’re just starting to see veraison, and in some vineyards we’re still on watch for the first signs.  Last year at this time, we were about 20% along,” said Courtney Shifflett, viticulturist at Duckhorn Wine Company and NVG member. Shifflett added, “Fruit is developing at a nice, steady rate. This will make for a later harvest than last year, but we predict the fruit quality to be excellent.”

Thus far, the 2018 growing season has been consistent, forgoing any major natural events. Budbreak was early, but the cool to warm spring and early summer weather set the ideal pace for vine growth and fruit set. Overall, the majority of clusters are uniform, creating ideal conditions for versaison.

During this point in the growing season, growers are actively maintaining grape and vine health by leafing – a key tool to for creating sunlight and air flow through the canopies, maximizing quality, minimizing disease pressure, and preventing sunburn.  The vineyard floor is sometimes cultivated to minimize weeds, vineyard pests, and to hold on to the remaining moisture that exists in the soil profile.

“It’s been a long growing season, but a great one.  We’re all looking forward to this year’s harvest, as the quality is looking exceptional,” said Pederson.

While there are still several weeks ahead until harvest, it appears to be shaping up to be another excellent vintage for 2018.

About Napa Valley Grapegrowers

NVG is a non-profit trade organization that has played a vital role in strengthening Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class viticultural region for 42 years.  Its mission is to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. NVG represents 725 Napa County grapegrowers and associated businesses. 

For more information, visit www.napagrowers.org

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