After several months of watching the grapes grow on our Suisun Valley and Green Valley vineyards, the harvest season is just about here and our growers and farmers are ready to celebrate.
Suisun Valley’s annual Harvest Festival is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 27. Organized by the Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association, the Harvest Festival is a family friendly event with free admission to all participating farms and wineries.
Activities will vary at every location and may include live music, food trucks, wine tasting, grape stomping (at Wooden Valley Winery), farm tours, olive oil tastings, jam tastings and more.
Participating locations include BackRoad Vines, Galvan Family Cellars, GV Cellars, Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company (which will also host Cal Yee Farms and Erickson Ranch), the Jelly Belly Factory, Mangels Vineyards, SePay Groves Olive Oil, Suisun Valley Wine Co-op and Wooden Valley Winery. Please note, while admission and parking are free at all locations, wine tasting and food may require additional costs.
Grape harvest in Suisun Valley typically begins in mid-August and will continue through the end of September. The olive harvest begins mid-September and continues into November.
Meanwhile, if you travel through Suisun Valley, you’re probably already admiring the growing grapes on the vines. Many have turned a dark purple color. In the vineyard life cycle, this is called veraison, meaning the onset of ripening. It occurs every July and August and is a sure sign that harvest is near. The official definition of veraison is “change of color of the grape berries.” Veraison represents the transition from berry growth to berry ripening.
Veraison begins when green chlorophyll is broken down and the grape berries begin to accumulate their colorful pigments. The vine’s leaves soak up the heat from the sun, turning it into sugars and carbohydrates that the vine can feast on. Some of the sugar is deposited into the grapes, which will help them to taste more fruity and sweet. The more sunlight absorbed by the leaves of the vine, the sweeter its fruit becomes. Many of the sweeter wine varieties come from late-harvest grapes.
Fun fact: The grapes begin as hard, small berries, but by the time they’re at full veraison, they will be much larger and pliable. Veraison occurs over a long period of time and each grape variety ripens at a different rate.