One of the more popular traditions in Tuscany, and more, in particular, Chianti, is the much-awaited harvesting of the grapes, or as it is called among the locals – la vendemmia. It brings a certain satisfaction to all those involved. The vineyard owners start to touch and smell the fruits of their labor. The connoisseur begins to dream of the flavors of this year’s vintage. And visitors and guests can participate an activity that is as old as the Etruscans … and even older.
There are so many ways you can harvest grapes – but you have to admit, that a hands-on approach is so much more tantalising to the senses. And for those who aren’t feeling the urge to go into the vineyards, perhaps you would prefer to visit a grape harvest festival where you can taste the flavors first hand ??
Waiting for the OK
Every year – indifferent to the weather, predictions about the yield or even the thought of the hard labor involved in the harvest – Elena loves to participate in the mayhem. She tugs on her boots, grabs a pair of gloves, sharpens her clippers, ties back her hair and brings her camera along to capture these special moments. This year will be no different. The word is that the Chianti summer mixed with just the right amount of rain at the end of the season is promising delightful things in the fermentation process – things that we will only be able to taste and savor in the years to come.
The harvest, however, it is a bit more intense now then it was before modern technology took over. As the grapes start their final push to maturation, the local oenologists start their prodding and probing, testing sugar levels. Sugar is necessary for the fermentation process – which is one of the basic steps in the production of wine. Too much or too little can change the outcome of the end product and vineyards are very attentive to find the “momento clou” . As soon as the right percentages have been detected, harvesters swarm into the vineyards – because now time is of the essence.
Selecting the Grapes
After participating in a harvest, you will find that the next time you open a bottle of Chianti Riserva, the flavors will seem more intense … because you will remember the time spent under the sun, sifting through the leaves, looking for the next bunch of ripe grapes. It will take you back to the perfume of the earth as you knelt down to grasp a hidden bunch and you will recall the camaraderie of harvesting with a group of people – who quickly became fast friends bonding over the necessity to protect these precious round parcels before they get to the stainless steel fermentation vats.
Legacy of the Harvest
Certainly there will be photos, exchanged holiday greeting between new friends and even, maybe, a return stay at Borgo Argenina and Chianti where you can relive the excitement. But the best memory will be that special bottle that you keep tucked away on your shelf, waiting for the right moment to enjoy.
Or maybe, you will just let it stay there, and every time you look at it your vacation in Tuscany and Borgo Argenina during the harvest season will come floating back to you – to savor all over again.