Featured image source: kimkim.com in Franschhoek

At Paserene, our wines are made from grapes carefully grown in three regions, namely Tulbagh, Elgin and Franschhoek. Each of these is a unique terroir making knowing when to harvest an extra complex game of patience and balance.

Grapes are ready to harvest once they have reached the level of ripeness that is needed for the style of wine to be made. This ripening phase is known as veraison, which takes 30 – 70 days starting between the end of December and the beginning of January, depending on the cultivar and region.

The ripening process is caused by exposure to sunlight and the ambient temperature of the vineyards, meaning that more direct daylight hours and warmer temperatures result in quicker ripening berries.

Unripe berries are small, hard spears with tough skins and are full of acid compounds. The ripening process converts these acids into sugars, which creates the elements that point to the ripeness of the fruit. The winemaker and viticulturist are looking at the balance of the decreasing total level of acid, the increasing sugars and the increasing pH level which point to the potential of the wines to be made.

As technique and knowledge have evolved, an additional focus has become exceptionally important in knowing how ripe a berry is. This focus is around the development of phenolic compounds, which contribute to the colour, flavour and aroma, along with a focus on the ripeness of tannins, which are found in the pips, skins and stems. When the tannins are unripe, they have a harsh “green” flavour that can be quite unpalatable. Together these are the main factors that point to the physiological ripeness.

Using this wider scope of evaluating when to harvest the berries at their peak has been pivotal in lifting the quality of wines around the world.

During this exciting period of South African wine, come and experience the buzz of potential at the Nest, Paserene’s tasting lounge in Franschhoek. It is the place to be seen and the perfect location to sample the quality range of Paserene wines that capture a moment in time.