Wine Openers | All Blogs

Grape harvest still a week off

By Dave Buchanan
Even though those table grapes hanging off the trellis near the rear porch might be ready for munching, the first of the Grand Valley's wine grapes are a week or more away from harvest. The first of the commercial wine grapes that ripen locally is a variety called muscat blanc, said winemaker Nancy Janes of Whitewater Hills Vineyards on 32 Road, who has an acre of the white grape. "I had some extra grapes last year but this year my two customers are foaming at the mouth for all my grapes," said Janes, who sells her muscat blanc to Augustina's Winery in Boulder and Trail Ridge Winery in Loveland. Also known as muscat canelli and muscat frontignan, muscat blanc grapes are used to make semi-sweet and dessert wines. Close behind them will be chardonnay followed by riesling, the last white grape to be harvested and sometimes not ready until October. Most of the valley's vines are draped in bird-proof (well, bird resistant, anyway) netting to protect the grapes as they go through what winemakers call "veraison," the change to the red/purple/black color that marks a ripening grape. "The grapes still aren't very sweet but the birds will peck at them anyway," said Janes. "They won't like the unripe (red) grapes but will look around and really go after the (ripe) white grapes." Most of the valley's red grapes are past the half-way mark in veraison, Janes reported, with some early merlot to be the first of the reds picked. Although some grape growers earlier reported their crops were a bit ahead of schedule, the month of hot weather caused grapes to go into a state of dormancy and slowed their development to a manageable pace. Janes last year added to her line with a sweet red table wine called Sweetheart Red, which Diana Tarasiewicz of DMT Culinary Adventures paired with spicy Thai food.