Graham Knox

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The puberty stage in a red vineyard

All red wines are made from grapes with pigmented skins.

If you get some of this red grape skin liquid on your clothes at harvest time you will know that it is a highly effective dye. It’s a little bit less dramatic when it’s red wine that is doing the job (the red dye has been diluted in the wine).

This change of colour happens when the grape moves from juvenile to mature stage. It’s called veraison.

Red grapes (the Cabernets, Shiraz and all of the rest) start their development with white (clear) skins. These turn progressively red with the dye over a period of a week or two, with some grapes ahead of the rest.

All of the Pinotage grapes in the picture will be identically dark red (they will appear black) when this bunch is harvested. At picking time, Pinotage has remarkably dark skins.

For best results with Pinotage grapes, we generally choose to stop the colour extraction late in fermentation, by removing the skins before the wine is dry. The fermentation continues without them. That’s how fruity, dark red classic Pinotage is made.

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