Vendemmia! Harvesting the grapes for next year’s Italian wine.

italian wine Walking in the vineyards around our bed and breakfast regularly allows one to see the Italian wine grapes maturing. The negligibly small flowers (if you haven’t looked closely, you’ve probably even seen them) slowly develop into the full bunches of small fruit. At first all grapes are green, but then sometime in August some of them turn purple/blue while others turn a yellowish sort of green. Strangely enough there are bunches which have both blue and green grapes. It is rather difficult to distinguish the grape varieties that are grown in the Oltrepò Pavese, our region south of Milan. Pinot nero, croatina, barbera, riesling, moscato, are some of the most common ones. The pinot has a rather compact bunch, as in a fist, from which locals say it gets its name. Pinot ~ pugno= fist. (The French will say it is a derivation from “pineau”: small pine cone). But for the others …

Vendemmia: Italian wine grapes

harvest italian wine grapes Depending on how the summer goes, the vendemmia (harvest) usually starts mid-August, after Ferragosto, the national holiday on the 15th. When we first came here, early September 2007, the harvest was already completed, which was exceptional. The year 2014 was particular for another reason: it has been one of the wettest and coldest summers on record. But the last three have been exceptionally hot and dry, leading to a high quality if somewhat less quantity. In fact, our local friends tell us they have no recollection of a summer as dry as 2017. Fortunately, the vines root deeply and never need to be watered. Each year end of August (although earlier this year) the seasonal laborers, mainly from Romania and Albania, arrive to do most of the manual picking. The tractors with wagon-loads of mature grapes will hold up traffic on their way to the cantine sociali (wine co-ops). Not a bad thing to get stuck behind such a wagon. Time to slow down and enjoy the sweet odour of next year’s Italian wine!

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