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Veraison Starts in Napa Valley

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Signals the beginning of winegrape ripening; Merlot grapes experience ‘shatter’ 

Napa VeraisonNAPA, CA, July 8, 2014 – According to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) veraison, an annual benchmark in the winegrape growing season is underway, occurring 5-10 days earlier than usual. Known as the onset of ripening, veraison marks the colorful transition from grape growth to grape ripening, resulting in several changes in grape development.

Most dramatically, red winegrapes slowly turn from green to red and purple while white winegrapes go from green to a golden yellow, becoming more opaque. The only challenge to this year’s growing season was during Merlot grape flowering. Normally occurring in the early spring, the flower set was less than ideal and crop levels will be reduced.

“Veraison is appearing earlier than last year due to a warm spring and an early start to the growing season,” says Allison Cellini, NVG member and viticulturist at Renteria Vineyards.

Many Pinot Noir vineyards are now showing signs of veraison and the rest of the varieties grown in Napa will soon follow suit.

At this time of year, vine growth is strong and growers are very actively managing leaf canopies to prevent sunburn and the vineyard floor to minimize weeds, vineyard pests, and hold on to the remaining moisture that exists in the soil profile. Increased use of vineyard technology enables vineyard managers to quickly identify and mitigate any threatening issues.

NVG also reports that this season’s Merlot harvest will be smaller than normal as some of these grapes underwent ‘shatter’ or ‘coulure.’ This viticultural condition results from windy or wet weather during flowering that causes poor pollination and the failure of some of the grapes in a cluster to form.

NVG anticipates that the 2014 harvest, expected to be a third consecutive bumper crop, will begin in late July.

Photo credit: Renteria Vineyards, courtesy of Allison Cellini and NVG.

About Napa Valley Grapegrowers

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers 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 over 39 years. Its mission is to preserve and promote Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards. NVG represents over 690 Napa County grapegrowers and associated businesses. For more information, visit www.napagrowers.org.

Follow Napa Valley Grapegrowers on Facebook and Twitter.

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