Much more than simple grape picking aimed at wine production, grape harvest at the wineries represents an experience to live and share directly at the winery. It is a process to execute with attention and dedication, that hides stories and traditions.
The experience of grape harvest in the centuries
Grape harvest at the wineries originates memories and connects different generations in a simple, but full of meaning, act. The sense of an important job, gathering families and friends, dates back to the Ancient Rome. During the Vinalia Rustica festivity, celebrated each August 19th, a sacrifice had to be made to god Zeus. This solemn moment started the harvest period, already seen by the families as a festival experience.
The moment of the harvest has kept these characteristics until the mid of the last century; the sacrality of the event, often associated to Saints as a gratitude for the grape produced, and festivity of the event, that became an occasion of meeting, work and party, as much as once the harvest ended, the whole family used to reunite at supper to celebrate.
Today, this ancient tradition is getting lost, also due to new technologies that facilitate the job but preclude its old idea of sociality. Nevertheless, many are the wineries that, in order to respect the environment, to selects specific grapes or simply by choice, decide to maintain the tradition of the manual harvest. This proves once again the immortality of the job of the man, especially when quality is concerned.
Grape harvest at the wineries in the producers’ memories
“I remember my first harvests, when I was 14, they were happy moments. We used to harvest with the old people of the town, they used to make us sing and at the end of the day we will all supper and celebrate together. Today is not like that anymore, harvest has become a mere working moment, the market rules make you think about time and costs more than a joyful moment. I hope that new generations that will chose to be winemakers will remember the meaning that this job had in the past, even though today’s world goes in another direction” – Lorenzo, Cascina Faletta
“Every beginning of the harvest period is a jump in the past and brings us back to the last harvest done with nonno Mario, from whom my brothers inherited the farm and made it grow. Our grandpa worked until the last, a life spent among the vineyards, with his straw hat. He used to make us ride the tractor, it was our favorite moment. We used to feel grown up watching the street from up there and we couldn’t imagine that one day that would have become our mission: to let as much people as possible know Monferrato.” – Martina, Cinque Quinti
It is important to highlight that not only one period of harvest exists. Based on the wine type different ripening period will be needed, in order for the grape to reach the ideal characteristics.
Wine production starts before harvesting. Taking care of the vine is in fact essential to establish those qualities that the wine will take. With harvest the grapes are selected and then the pressing follows. Subsequently, the fermentation is kept under control by adding lees and by keeping the temperature constant. After that, the racking is next. Around the mid of November, the first transfer happens; it helps eliminating leftovers and impurities. At this point wine is ready for aging, and once bottled is must be kept in a fresh environment with a standard temperature.
For the fermentation phase, famous in south of Italy is the use of the millstone, a large and not too tall tub. The majority of the millstones still present in south of Italy are concentrated in the regions of Calabria and Sicily and they date back to ancient Greece and Rome.
Live a wine experience in the harvest period
A tradition of the Otrepò wine region is to let clients of the wineries live the experience of grape harvest. At Calatroni, each weekend of September, you will have the chance of harvesting with the whole family, press the grapes with your feet and eat a whole meal paired with the wineries productions.
In Veneto, at Massimago, you can live and event dedicated to Amarone harvesting, between the end of September and the beginning of October 2020.
In Apulia, at Cantina Bosco, live the tradition by picking up grapes directly from the vineyards, visit the production places and end the experience by relaxing and tasting the different wines of the winery.
Discover all the wineries in on of their best periods, where you could appreciate the work, the dedication and the tradition that hides behind high quality wines; dive into authentic wine experiences and in the passion of Divinea‘s world.