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NorCal Wine Blog

Wine Terms: What is Millerandage?

There is typically little variation in the size of grapes on a single bunch. Millerandage refers to a condition where there a numerous very small berries on bunch along with those of normal size. Millerandage is also known as “hen and chickens” or, less commonly, “pumpkin and peas.” Individual under-sized grapes are sometimes called shot berries, a reference to the small pellets fired from shotguns.

A grapevine in the Livermore Valley showing mild millerandage due to bad weather during flowering. 

A close up of Pinot Noir with a few shot berries indicated by the arrow. 

The primary problem resulting from millerandage is reduced yield. There are simply fewer properly-sized, ripe grapes per bunch from which to get juice. The photo above shows just minor millerandage. It’s not ideal, but won’t have a significant impact on production.

The undersized grapes result from flawed fertilization of the ovary during flowering. (The ovaries eventually turn into grapes.) Such grapes will have fewer seeds than the normal ones and may also not ripen fully. The most common cause of millerandage is poor weather during flowering. That was the case for the grapes shown above. However, millerandage can also result from a disease of the vine called fanleaf virus or a boron deficiency in the soil.


Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to Copyright 2011 NorCal Wine. Photos by Fred Swan. All rights reserved.

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