Wine Words Demystified: What Does “Veraison” Mean?

You know the deal; the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus – Wine Words Demystified!  This week’s word is Veraison..

According to Wikipedia:

Véraison is a viticulture (grape-growing) term meaning “the onset of ripening”. It is originally French, but has been adopted into English use. The official definition of veraison is “change of color of the grape berries.” Veraison represents the transition from berry growth to berry ripening, and many changes in berry development occurs at veraison.

In other words, veraison is the period when the grape berries become progressively soft and take on the colors characteristic of their specific varieties.

veraison in syrah lagier meredith
Veraison in Syrah- Image courtesy of Lagier Meredith

Veraison typically occurs 40-50 days after fruit set. In the Northern hemisphere that’s typically in late July/early August.  However here in Northern California, many wineries have already reported the onset of veraison. In fact, some are reporting it’s the earliest veraison in a decade or so.

As you can see from the photo above, the onset of veraison does not occur uniformly among all berries.

So what does this mean in terms of actual production of wine? With the onset of veraison, acidity begins to decrease, and sugar levels increase.  When sugar levels rise to the appropriate level (typically measured in brix) as deemed by the winemaker/grower then it is harvested, and the winemaking process begins.

And for wineries, it’s an exciting times because it means it’s time to start gearing up for harvest!


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  1. this is an exciting time during the grape growing process, and so beautiful!
    Thanks for enlightening us and helping to expand our Vino-cabulary!
    Cheers Martin!

    1. Martin D. Redmond says:

      Thanks for the kind words Eileen!

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