The Life Cycle of a Napa Valley Wine Grape

There is nothing quite like enjoying a Napa Valley wine, particularly from ELLMAN. That delicious flavor can take you to places you never knew possible, different from any of the average wines out there. Using the finest grapes creates the finest flavors.

But have you ever stopped to think about what the life cycle of the average Napa Valley grape is? Understanding the journey from the beginning to your stomach is important before diving into your next bottle.

Winter Pruning

It starts with the winter pruning. This takes place over a long time, with skilled pruners hoping to guide the vine along based on a particular purpose. Most of the work is done by year-round vineyard workers, who use precise techniques to get the vines just as they need to.

Each vine has its particular growing stages and the pruning decisions made can impact how those vines grow, all of which have an impact on the resulting grapes. 

Bud Break

Next comes the bud break. The first buds will emerge from a dormant vine during the bud break. Depending on the location and vine variety, the break can take place over two months all across Napa Valley.

Despite misconceptions, Napa Valley is just 30 miles long by five miles wide and only 9% of the area is used to plant grapes. That means a small area in which the breaks can occur.

Flowering and Fruit Set

Roughly a month of vegetative growth later, tight bunches develop. Each can form a single grape, depending on the temperature conditions in the area. This is a period where flowering is the most vulnerable, taking as long as two months.

The fruit set is where the tiny green spheres begin to emerge. They also move from single entities into bunches, taking the familiar shape that we know so well.

Crop Thinning and Veraison

The process of crop thinning is known as “green harvesting,” which means dropping the grape bunches that aren’t developing properly. Around only half of the amount is actually harvested, meaning only the best of the best make it.

The veraison process is where some of the grapes turn to a shade of red and white, revealing their true colors. This also takes several months. The color also leads to a change in acidity and freshness, ultimately giving the grapes their final flavoring.

A Greater Appreciation

At the end of the day, appreciating the wine that you drink can give deeper meaning to each sip. The Napa Valley area is home to some of the best and most diverse wines in the country despite coming from a small area. Knowing the life cycle of the Napa Valley wine grape makes offerings from ELLMAN all the more meaningful. It can also make for a great topic of conversation at the next tasting or gathering you attend.

ELLMAN is a family-owned winery in Napa and is one of the most beautiful Napa Wineries that is open currently. ELLMAN works with Andy Erickson to create elegant wines to be enjoyed by all types of people - try our wine at one of our Downtown Napa tasting rooms. You can learn more about our story here, or check out our membership options on this page to learn how to get started and ellevate your cellar with us.