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  • Writer's pictureJan Dempsey

La Vendemmia - An Autumnal Tradition

The Vendemmia, or grape harvest, is an exciting time of the year in Tuscany as well as the wine-growing regions around the world. The reason? It is the culmination of all the hard work that has gone on during the entire year. After the harvest, winemakers are busy in the wine cellar, monitoring the fermentation of the newly-picked grapes. But soon Winter will call and while the vines are dormant, he will be pruning and training the vines in anticipation of new growth in the spring at which time seeds for nitrogen giving plants will be sown between the vines. Fertilizing the land and controlling the pests with the fruits of Mother Nature will continue Spring and Summer. And then, Fall, in all its brilliant colors, will be back and the vines will be bursting with those plump grapes, just waiting to be made into luscious wines. And so, this is our reward and the reason we celebrate the vendemmia.

Prior to our arrival, our winemaker, Marco had already harvested and started the fermentation process for il Cardellino - the “pet-nat” rose - as well as an experimental semi-sparkling dry white using the grapes we normally would use to make the sweet wine. He also harvested organic trebbiano grapes found at a nearby organic vineyard to continue making Le Rondini, our skin contact white or “orange” wine that we introduced 2 years ago.

And so at the end of September we arrived at Podere Erica and harvested grapes three different days over a week’s time. Our first harvest was a small one to make an experimental light sangiovese wine using carbonic maceration (the Beaujolais method). The whole clusters had to be added by hand to the tank. No stemming.

The other two harvests consisted of Sangiovese and canaiolo grapes for Il Picchio and La Ghiandaia. The mornings started out chilly with still some dampness in the air from the previous days’ rain, but as the sun got higher in the sky, the day heats up and by afternoon we are sweating. Chatting with nearby pickers, working toward the same goal of picking all those grapes and, yes, the celebration afterwards keeps us going. As we fill the bins with grapes, we leave them between the vines so that the tractor with trailer can move down the row and pick them up. When the tractor is full, someone (not me) heaves each bin, one by one into the destemmer. It is so rewarding to see that big pile of stems on the ground.

Then the tedious clean up and washing that Marco does, while we sneak away for a little rest with a glass of wine. At the end of the day, there is a great satisfaction from a successful vendemmia and a year of extremely hard work. Looking forward to more great wines!

Speaking of Marco and hard work, I am proud to say that we celebrated not only the end of the vendemmia, but also 10 years of Marco's hard work, transforming Podere Erica into a biodynamic farm and producing the best wines in our area. It was his vision 10 years ago that we would be farming sustainably and using practices that are ecologically and environmentally friendly. Without herbicides and pesticides we actually sequester carbon, making for a healthier earth. Without adding chemicals to our wines in the cellar, we also make a healthier wine for you. Thank you Marco for your vision and commitment.

MORE GOOD NEWS: Our new vines (below) are growing really well and will be producing grapes in two more years.  This will double or current production of 500 cases to 1,000 cases. And we are happy to announce that we have found an importer for California and New York and look forward to finally having our wines here in the States.

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