Early September is the time for the Harvest in Monferrato at the wine Estate “Marchesa” toghether with the Andar per Gavi, the event organized by Slow Food on Sunday 8 September, during which we will welcome Slow Food guests and our friends for a visit to the estate and a tasting of our wines.
“Andar per Gavi” and Slow Food
Since many years Slow Food organize the “Andar per Gavi” event, a whole Sunday to discover the Gavi hills covered with vineyards. The guests of Tenuta La Marchesa will be able to admire the vineyards loaded with grapes ready for the harvest, to walk in the orchard garden and in the Italian garden, to visit the villa chapel and the wine museum in the limonaia and, finally, visit the cellar and taste not only the Gavi but also the reds wines from the native grapes grown at the Estate: Albarossa and Pelvaro with the scent of pepper and blackcurrant typical of the Pelaverga vine. The visit and the tasting are free but your purchases are obviously more and more appreciated!
The Grape Harvest: they must know 3 key things: the first is its history:
The grape harvest during Roman empire:
Since ancient times there are images of bunches of grapes harvested and pressed in many archaeological remains throughout the Mediterranean area. The Romans dedicated a special holiday to the harvest, the Vinalia Rustica celebrated on August 19th, a very early date compared to the current date of harvest, so far to think that the climate was perhaps warmer than it is today.
The grape harvest up to 1800:
From the time of Roman empire until 1800 the harvest was done in the same way, with the hand-picked bunches brought with baskets to the pressing area where a young man stomped the grapes with his feet as seen in a 1700 print published in a book on French agriculture: the Maison Rustique.
The second thing to know is the harvest period based on the three ripenings of grape:
In the northern hemisphere the harvesting period goes from August to the end of October according to the climate and the type of grapes grown in the vineyard.
The three ripenings:
The harvest start according to the balance between three ripenings: the technological ripening linked to the optimal ratio between sugars and acids, the phenolic ripening linked to the moment when the skins have carried out the maximum concentration of phenolic substances, the aromatic ripening linked to the maximum concentration of aromatic substances.
as you can see to guess the right time for the harvests not easy!! this is the main task of a good winemaker as on this choice depends the result of a fully year’s work.
The third thing to know is the harvest method
The harvest can be manual or mechanical with the use of the grape harvester a machine invented about 50 years ago.
The oldest harvest method is the manual harvest, linked to many well known images, it is a very tiring harvest method often made in full sun with the difficulty of separate the perfectly ripe grain from the unripe or the rotten ones in the same bunch. At Marchesa we make the manual harvest in the steepest vineyards or in very short rows.
The harvest method with the grape harvester is certainly less romantic but has many advantages. The grapes harvest is done when the balance is reached between the three ripenings above mentioned,, the harvest takes place in optimal hygienic conditions since the grapes are never touched by the hands and the grape harvester is washed at each work shift, the harvester causes the fall only of perfectly ripe berries leaving the rotten or unripe ones on the brunch wich remains on the plant in a way that is impossible to do by hand. At the Marchesa wine estate we uses mechanical harvest for most of the vineyard, a few years ago we have compared wines obtained from manual and mechanical harvest finding identical results if not better in the harvest with the harvester.
The harvest in Monferrato at Marchesa Estate: not only Gavi
The harvest in Monferrato lasts almost a month as the different grape varieties have different ripening periods: Gavi is harvested from 9 to 25 September; the Pelaverga matures slightly later and is harvested from 15 to 20 September, the last grape variety to reach perfect ripening is the Albarossa which is harvested from 25 September to 5 October.
At the Marquesa we do the harvest and pressing within 30 minutes so we don’t put sulphites in harvest.
After the harvest what happens ??
The harvest is only the final moment in which the result of a whole year of work in the vineyard is gathered but to have a good wine there is still a lot to do, are you curious? Would you like to know more ??
Wait a little longer and we will tell you about the joys and sorrows of winemaking in the next post.