With six different varieties in our small vineyard, we pay close attention to ripening patterns so that we can harvest the grapes at exactly the right time. Luckily, we are assisted by the natural growth patterns of the varieties. I took these photos today to illustrate how great the difference can be. The first is Pinot Noir--also the first red variety to ripen. The berries are beginning to fill out and form tight bunches, as you can see. We expect harvest to be in late February or perhaps early March if the weather is cool.
It makes sense that this variety has found its true home in Burgundy. In such a northely region, any red grapes that did not ripen early would be unlikely to ripen at all.
By contrast, Cabernet Franc is a much later ripener. Just look at the bunches below and compare the development to the Pinot Noir above. This Cabernet Franc will be picked at least three weeks later--maybe even in April.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the last variety to be picked. That will certainly be in April unless the weather is very hot and dry over summer.