Vitis vinifera L. berries are non-climacteric fruit that exhibit a double sigmoid growth pattern and dynamic changes in gene expression, cell metabolism, and water relations at the onset of ripening. The cell-pressure probe was utilized to examine the relationships of turgor pressure (P) in mesocarp cells to growth, sugar accumulation, and fruit softening during development. In replications utilizing three different varieties, mesocarp cell P demonstrated a consistent pattern of a relative mid-range P early in development, followed by an increase to a maximum of about 0.35 MPa, and a subsequent rapid decline before ripening to less than 0.1 MPa. Fruit "apparent elastic modulus" (E, units of MPa), was introduced as a standard measure to describe ripening-related softening. E changed dynamically and synchronously with P during development and in response to water deficits for fruit grown in greenhouse and field conditions. Thus, E and P were positively and linearly related. Sugar accumulation did not increase significantly until P had declined to less than 0.1 MPa. The results suggest that P is an important determinant of fruit softening and that P decreases in conjunction with many of the physiological and gene expression changes that are known to occur at the onset of ripening.