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.