Veraison can be explained a few different ways in terms of wine grapes. For some winemakers, you’ll hear them explain it as the onset of ripening. Others will tell you that Veraison happens when the grapes begin to change color.
Almost all wine grapes that we currently grow, either red or white start green and then turn into something more golden if they’re a white wine grape like Chardonnay, or a deep red or black if they’re a red wine grape like Cabernet.
To the touch, this is the first time that the grapes start to feel a bit softer and less like say a raisin and more like say, a table grape.
Taking it a step further, Veraison also marks an important step in the growing process of the berries that we can’t see with our naked eyes. At Veraison, the grape cells stop dividing and sugar content starts to rise.
Veraison is a fun time of year in the vineyard for those visiting, because they can literally see what’s happening but also in the winery and the wine industry because different grape varieties have different lengths of time between Veraison and being ready to harvest. Those times are fairly consistently across vintages when you control for the home vineyard and some other basic factors. In other words, once Veraison kicks in sometime during the early summer months (or late spring which leads to its own set of problems for wineries and winemakers) winemakers can begin to plan for harvest for the first time.
Lastly, this also marks the time of year when winemakers tend to start making more serious passes through the vineyard. There’s a point during the late summer, about a month or two out from harvest when they’ll do a 75% check of wine grapes
So to answer the question: what is veraison? Quite simply put, Veraison is when the grapes turn color…..yes, it’s fun to see!