Veraison, or fruit coloring, arrived for my De Chaunac variety about a week ago in my vineyard. My other red wine varieties are just starting to develop some color now. Veraison is a very exciting time in the vineyard. It illustrates that your vines are doing the work necessary and focusing their attention on the ripening of their fruit. We would like to think that the vines are doing this to reward the vineyard manager, the winemaker, and eventually the wine drinker for all their efforts. Sorry to burst your bubble, but they work to ripen their fruit for a very self-serving reason. They ripen that fruit with the hope that a bird or other animal may be attracted to it, eat it, and eventually pass the seeds to the ground to grow more vines. Yes, this is the grapevine's method of continuing their species. We winemakers, however, would prefer to keep that wonderful fruit in order to do our best at making the highest quality wine we can derive from the current vintage.
With this in mind, veraison also brings on a feeling of angst to counter the excitement. The angst is derived from my past experience with the birds doing what they were supposed to do and picking my vines clean of the fruit. Luckily that was an early, non-production, year for my vines. Although unnerving, it gave me a foreshadowing what was in store for my hard work if I let the birds have their way. So my friends, the birds, during the growing season, that kept the bugs in check, have now become my nemesis is the quest for ripe fruit. So what was I to do?
There are a lot of choices. These basically come down to scare and exclusion approaches. The scare approaches are things like big eyed balloons, plastic owls, flying kite birds of prey, sonic devices and other loud noise producers - your neighbors will love you! The overall problems with these are that their effectiveness is short-lived. They may work for a few days. Once, however, the ever-testing birds decide these aren't really a threat, say goodbye to your fruit. Yes, there are those of you out there saying, "haven't you heard of a shotgun?" Yes, I have. Living in a residential neighborhood — the police might begin to know me personally....