21 August 2016

Véraison et vendange en vert

Last Wednesday, I was surprised to see that many of the grapes out in the vineyard had suddenly started to show signs of ripening. I shouldn't have been surprised, I guess — it is getting to be late August. But everything to do with fruit and vegetables has been so late this year, after all the bad weather we had in May and June.

This stage in the development of the grapes is called "veraison", I read, and it's a French word (véraison) that is also used in English. It's the point at which the grapes stop growing and start ripening. It's easy to see the veraison when you look at rows of red wine grapes.

One other development has caught my eye too. Some of the vignerons (grape growers/winemakers) have been doing what is called vendange en vert or vendanges vertes up and down their rows of vines. The "green harvesting" is a thinning out or éclaircissage of the overabundant grapes.

If there are too many grapes per plant, the wine made from them might be thin and acidic because the vine will be stressed. Culling the superfluous bunches is a way to make the remaining ones healthier and sweeter. There is a danger, however; the grapes left on the ground can rot and spread disease in the vineyard.

I've been known to go out and gather some of the healthy-looking culled grape bunches and make grape jelly with them. I obviously waited too long to pick up the ones in the two photos above. By the way, our afternoon temperatures are supposed to go back up into the 90s in ºF (mid-30s in ºC) this coming week.


  1. If you treated the third photo with some filter in Photoshop Elements, you'd get a beautiful still life.

    1. I think it's a pretty nice still life the way it is! LOL

  2. Imagine the delight in early man, when he or she came across this plant growing, and saw those luscious berries, and then tasted them!

  3. Judy, you might enjoy this legend concerning saint Martin of Tours (4th century A.D.), his donkey, and the practice of pruning the grape vines to produce delicious wines:

    L’histoire dit que lors d’une tournée d’hiver des monastères, Martin de Tours s’est assoupi dans les vignes, après avoir attaché son âne à un piquet. Ce dernier en a profité pour brouter les sarments, qui jaillissaient abondamment des ceps jusque-là laissés en friche. Devant les pieds ratiboisés, Saint-Martin n’a pu que s’excuser auprès des moines exploitant les vignes pour les dégâts occasionnés.

    Mais « quel ne fut pas l'étonnement des moines, quand à l'heure des vendanges, ils récoltèrent sur les vignes taillées par l'âne de nombreuses et grosses grappes de raisin, juteuses et sucrées », si différentes des habituelles « petites grappes acides qui donnaient un petit vin aigrelet » raconte Guillaume Lapaque, le directeur de la Fédération des Vignerons de Touraine. Ainsi serait née la taille de la vigne.


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