In Grape Growing, Veraison is for the Birds

I’ve always loved the sound of “veraison,” the French word that signifies the late-summer change in the color of berries. With my Marquette grapes, that means a transformation from green to pink to red over the course of several weeks in August.  

Veraison for me has the added benefit of letting me exhale a bit as my biggest vineyard threat – a fungus called Anthracnose – no longer attacks the grapes as their sugar content rises and acidity falls with the change in color. 

August is also a popular time for weddings. They are a “veraison” of their own I suppose, as a couple matures and undergoes a metamorphosis.  So it was that we attended a family wedding in Oregon in August, at the time veraison was just beginning.  

When I returned to the vineyard 2 weeks later, birds had destroyed about 30 percent of my crop. We quickly erected our bird netting, however, and exhaled again. 

But the birds this year were a little more Hitchcock-ian.  They attacked every vulnerability in our bird netting, leaving a trail of feathers and barren rows in their wake.  I estimate that they ate more than 400 lbs. of grapes in the final two weeks before harvest, a full 95% of my crop.  

I’ll be making a Port-style fortified wine this year, something I can put in half-bottles and still have more than a handful.  And over many glasses of our 2015 wine, I’ll be spending the next 11 months thinking about how I will never again be beaten by the birds. 

5 thoughts on “In Grape Growing, Veraison is for the Birds

  1. Wow, Dave, that’s terrible! They are a big problem in certain areas of California, too; I can’t attest to its effectiveness, but many growers out here attempt to repel birds by tying strands of tinsel to the ends of shoots; the tinsel glints in the sunlight and creates flashes that are supposed to keep our feathered friends at bay.


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