The good news is that the grapes are ripening. The bad news is that birds have noticed. The grapes have entered a phase called veraison, which is the final phase of ripening. During veraison, the grapes begin to soften as they increase in size and in sugar content. This is also when the red varietals begin to get their color and the chardonnay grapes lighten and take on a transparent aspect. Our local birds—crows, blue jays, finches, sparrows and doves—have noticed the ripening grapes and can smell the developing sugars.
In order to prevent the birds from eating the crop before it evens ripens, we netted the grapes earlier this weekend. Netting the grapes means that we covered the grapes with netting in the vineyards that we manage. Covering the grapes is a manual, time-consuming, labor-intensive task as the netting needs to be laid in place gently so as not to damage the developing grapes. It has to be secured near the grapevine trunk so that the birds cannot fly up under the net to feast on the grapes. The woven mesh netting will stay in place until we harvest the grapes in the fall.