August 18, 2011

Learning how to do a green harvest in Piemonte.

 We are settled in Piemonte after traveling for over four months visiting different wine regions and visiting our favorite producers. I have enjoyed every part of this adventure but the real reason we are here is to work the harvest. 

I followed my winemaker (LC) around yesterday and I learned how to cut for a green harvest. I also visited our vineyards in Barbaresco and in Asti. I was taught how to taste the grapes for analyzing the skins for color, and seeds for tannins. It seemed like I ate my weight in grapes but I did get an understanding of the different clones, soil, affect the pH, sugar content and total acid content. 

According to Wikipedia, a green harvest is the removal of immature grape bunches, typically for the purpose of decreasing yield.
 Green harvesting is a relatively modern practice most often used to produce fine wine. Removing the tiny, immature grapes while they are still green induces the vine to put all its energy into developing the remaining grapes.
 In theory this results in better ripening and the development of more numerous and mature flavor compounds. In the absence of a green harvest, a healthy, vigorous vine can produce dilute, unripe grapes.

 I was taught that it is important to have one cluster per cane and no more than six clusters per vine. You also need to factor where the grape cluster is positioned. For example if there are two cluster on a cane you would leave the grapes that are closer to the base because it tends to receive more energy. 

The art of deciding which grape cluster gets the cut and how many to leave.

The unlucky bunches. (a few bottles of wine)

80 year old Nebbiolo vine. 

One of my many offices.  (Lazzarito vineyard in Serralunga d'Alba)

This is at the beginning of the morning which started a 6:45 am but by 3 in the afternoon I had drunk four bottles of water, was drenched in sweat, had stepped in mud, was followed by bees, and had walked in a few spider webs. To me, it was a perfect day!

Would you believe that the next two photos are two separate vineyards by very well known producers (I will not reveal their names, but I was shocked.) Both are planted with barbera but it is unbelievable that Vineyard #1 is so overgrown.  

Vineyard #1 is in need of some TLC.

Vineyard #2 

Moscato grapes.

Dolcetto grapes.

Fresh from the garden next to the Lazzarito vineyard. Fresh zucchini, zucchini flowers, melon, and hazelnuts. 

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