The ritual of the harvest that has always brought with it a great charm, as well as a historical and anthropological value. It is a real annual “event” of work and social sharing in the territory. The harvest is the moment when the grapes of the vineyard, grown throughout the year, are harvested and taken to the cellar to begin the winemaking process, which will turn the must into wine. Before we get to this important moment, however, there is a great deal of work behind it that requires knowledge, time and dedication. The process that leads the grapes to become wine needs optimal vines, land and climatic conditions, as well as correct techniques of vineyard management that are the same as two thousand years ago but made more controllable by progress. The process is divided into various stages, but it all begins with the harvesting of the grapes. There are essentially three periods of harvesting: August-September, September-October and October-November for late fermentation grapes such as those of passito wines. In general it is identified with the period in which the grapes have reached the desired degree of ripening, more precisely we talk about phenolic maturity when the aromas and aromas begin to be present in the grapes, that is, when the three parts that make up the grape: peel, pulp and grape marc have reached the complete maturity not only of analytical values, such as sugar grade and acidity, but also of sensory expression.
The harvest period, however, can depend on several factors: climatic conditions, production area, type of grapes or type of wine you want to obtain. There are two methods of harvesting grapes. Manual collection is carried out by hand by operators. It can be done with the help of trolleys or bin-type containers or cassettes. It is used to produce selection wines and for classic method sparkling wines, where greater delicacy is needed. In this case, production costs increase, but selective choice of bunches is possible. The mechanical harvesting, on the other hand, is carried out through harvesting machines that collect grapes with vertical or horizontal shaking. In this way the process becomes faster and more efficient and, thanks to the technological development of recent years, with a quality level comparable to that obtained with manual collection. During the collection phase, some basic rules have always been respected. First, you avoid picking wet grapes, because water could affect the quality of the must. It is also good practice not to collect during the hottest hours of the day to prevent unwanted fermentation. The grapes are stored in containers that are not too large to avoid crushing and quickly brought to the premises where vinification will be carried out, to avoid unwanted maceration or fermentation. This is a delicate phase because it is essential to spend as little time as possible between harvesting and pressing to avoid the deterioration of the grapes: the bunches supported with the intact peel are the premise to have a good wine. In the past the harvest was a ritual that involved the whole family, occupied in the work of the fields throughout the month of September. Today the process has changed a lot, but the spirit has always remained the same: a party that concludes the tiring weeks of work made up of stories and toasts to the wine that will come.