January represents the beginning of the winegrowing team’s season, with pruning activities taking place throughout all of Chandon’s vineyards.
The vines are physically sculpting growth for the upcoming year, manipulating the vines, in order to reshape the structure and set the course for yield and grape quality.
As the weather heats up in spring through early summer, so does activity in the vineyard. Block by block, the vines begin to flower and transform into beautiful clusters of grapes. From the mountain tops of Mount Veeder to the rolling slopes of Carneros, each vineyard has its own timeline, and each block within the vineyard progresses at its own rate.
At this stage, close attention is paid to the balance between canopy and clusters to ensure even ripening later in the season.
Throughout July, the period called “fruit set” is critical: it’s when growers begin to get a good idea of the potential size of the harvest, and begin to make plans and schedules for picking the fruit in the coming months.
The next step in the grapes’ development, which typically begins in late July/early August is called veraison, and it’s that special moment when the grapes start to change color and show the beginnings of ripeness. This process happens at different times depending on each vineyard’s elevation, orientation and microclimate. Grapes need sunscreen in the summertime just like we do—and growers provide it by carefully managing the canopy so that the leaves filter just the right amount of sunlight to ripen, but not burn, the tender fruit.
As harvest nears, the grapes should display a uniform ripening profile that provides balanced acid levels and hints of varietal character with uniform color—all key components to crafting a great sparkling wine.
By August or early September, the first grapes are ready for harvesting. Workers carefully tend each row to ensure balance throughout and the almost-mystical practice of determining just the right moment to pick.