Véraison- The grapes they are a changin’

This past weekend we travelled to the North Fork of Long Island for a Dinner in the Vines at Lenz Winery.

We took some time to walk the vines. This is a very important time of year for the wine growers, known as Véraison (Vay-ray-zoN). This wine growing term, from the French, is used to mean “the onset of ripening”.

All grapes start out very small and acidic (not good to taste). During véraison the berries become soft and take on the colors characteristic of their specific varieties. White grapes change from green to whitish golden. Red/Black grapes change from green to their final color.

Looking at the color of the grape skins can finally give you an indication of the final color of the wine. Also, inside of the grapes, acid levels decrease and sugar levels increase.

Because the grapes are finally getting sweet this is also the time that wine growers will cover the vines with nets to protect them from the hungry birds.

Took a few pictures of the process for you enjoy…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next step…wine harvest.

Lessons learned at Wine Camp- A look back…

Last year, my wife and I traveled to the North Fork of Long Island to attend wine camp– 3 days of access to some of the best winegrowers in the area.

Welcome!


If you love wine
and have never been to a wine growing region- plan a trip, now!

It is enlightening to see how wine grapes are grown. Visiting a winery allows you to appreciate the effort required to produce wine and to enjoy the passion, of everyone involved in the process.

Every glass of wine you drink afterwards will taste better.

What I learned at wine camp:


Wine growing is FARMING. It it is HARD work
and a difficult way to earn a living.

Most wineries are not chateaus
but rather modest, generally clean environments for producing  a reliable, consistent product.

“Chateau” Old Field- lovely people live/work here

Wine people (producers, owners, tasting room managers) are fun, patient people who LOVE to talk wine and answer questions, so feel free to ask away.

Vintage does Matter
The vintage year (the year listed on the bottle) is ALWAYS the year the grapes were harvested, not when it is released (available on shelves). Therefore it is a snapshot of what happened in the vineyard during that growing season.

The North Fork has a cool, sometimes cold, maritime climate. Similar to Bordeaux it is greatly  influenced by dramatic, unpredictable weather shifts.   In 2010 when we visited, winemakers were anticipating a fantastic harvest. For the entire spring, temperatures were moderate, they had plenty of sun, and the grapes were ripening very well. Literally the day we left, a hail storm hit and some wineries lost as much as a third of their crops in one day!

Check your grapes! Europeans have spent thousands of years determining what grows best in a certain area. Most have laws that restrict what can be grown, and how it can be grown, to maintain the integrity of a specific region.

We do not have many of these laws in the United States so you will be well served to ask winemakers what grows best in their region, and stick to wines made with those grapes.

The PRODUCER is important (Look at the name of the winery)
A good producer provides quality and consistency. Many factors are out of their control: weather, temperature, hungry birds, etc. But a good producer can make a good wine in a not so good vintage. And a reputable producer won’t even make wine in a poor vintage!

Read on for some of my favorite producers from the trip: Continue reading