Vintage is a demanding merrymaking. For a winery like us, is the peak of our work, the goal of all the year activity.
When the time comes, we can think of little else.
Walking in the vineyards, picking up berries here and there, trying to judge their taste, sweetness, acidity, the presence of a green under-tone. We check the grapes for small bruises, burns from the sun, consistency, skin thickness, eventual weaknesses.
Rain can do good to vines “stopped” by a water stress, or make the berries swell exceedingly, creating small cracks that may induce rot.
We also pick up different samples to analyze them (sugar, acidity, ph), and decide the right moment to begin (weather allowing).
A high sugar content is not the only thing to look for, you may loose freshness and the bouquet of the wine. Besides, with last years different climatic conditions, storms are a real menace.
Therefore there is quite a commotion, the wish to end it all before the weather turns, the smugness for having been wise (or lucky) enough to wait the right time, the pride for the quality of one’s harvest, the impatience and exasperation for the foreseeable unforeseen events that punctually happen.
Everything else fades on the background, any other subject becomes less important. We are tired, excited and very moody.
Always approach a wine maker cautiously during vintage.
- When How and With whom
When all sensorial and analytics checks have been done, careful examination of weather forecast completed, evaluation with our oenologist finally over, heated family discussions brought to an end, and the crystal ball returned to its cupboard, we decide it’s time and vintage can begin.
The picking order (with short or long pauses in between) starts with pinot noir, goes on with malvasia, barbera, and last bonarda.
All grapes are handpicked. White grapes are put in cases, in order to keep them whole until crushing, so must will not start fermenting before time.
Red grapes are gathered in a cart and brought immediately home, to be pressed and destemmed.
We use only our own grapes and, having the vineyards all close to the cellar, time from the moment they are harvest and the one they are processed is very short.
Do you recall tales of old vintages, with relatives and friends taking part, making quite a happy turmoil, and thinking mainly about the evening eating and drinking that will follow the day work? Well, none of this is now possible.
Today, even for a small winery like us, all people working must be regularly employed, apart from next of kin.
Keep also in mind that, apart from the gleeful side, vintage is a lot of effort. It is often hot, going downhill means going up afterwards, one gets dirty with sticky must, it is necessary to be careful not to cut oneself with the scissors or being stung by bugs, and baskets weight a lot.
But in a fine sunny day, harvesting beautiful grapes, you work and joke and it is nonetheless a festive occasion.