The Chianti grape harvest is such a momentous occasion for wineries in Chianti, Tuscany. It marks the culmination of a grape’s growth on the vines and commences the process of fermentation and aging.
In Italy it is known as the vendemmia. Tuscany is a beautiful place to tour during this time of year, especially through the Chianti wine region. Watching the workers harvest the grapes for the wines that we are so fortunate to enjoy and savor is a treat.
Sangiovese, one of the primary grapes of Tuscany, is a grape harvested later than others. Depending upon the weather patterns it will typically be harvested late September to early October. If you’re taking a wine tour of Tuscany you may also witness the other tuscan grapes that will be harvested including Canaiolo, Colorino, Mammolo, Vernaccia, Vermentino and international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Many tuscan wineries will start the harvest early morning before the warmth of the day begins. The grape harvest in Chianti includes a careful selection of grapes before they are transported to the winery for fermentation. Deciding the right time to pick these grapes for a winemaker is an important decision. Wanting to make sure that the grapes are not picked too early or too late so that the grapes have a good balance of acidity and sugar is key.
Once the grapes are picked, whether hand-harvested as many wineries do or via machines, they are placed into wicker baskets or plastic bins. From there they are carefully transferred to larger containers before fermentation takes place. Taking careful care of the grapes during harvest and easily placing them into the bins is important to not trigger fermentation. From there it is all about the de stemming and/or crushing of the grapes. The process then continues on depending upon how the winemaker chooses to proceed with each phase of the production process.
Wine education courses and wine tastings are a couple of the best ways to enhance one’s knowledge in learning about and understanding wine. There is no better way to truly understand a wine and its origins from grape to glass than taking a wine tour of Tuscany. It is the perfect opportunity to watch the sangiovese grapes and others grow and be harvested during the chianti grape harvest.
When visiting a winery in Tuscany you get the perfect insight into the soils of the land, the climate and the geography. All these items, known as terroir, are important factors for understanding how each factor affects the grapes themselves. The very beginning of the season marks the arrival of the buds on the vines followed by veraison, when the grapes begin to ripen and change colors. Visiting mid-season you can start to see the grapes develop and the steps the wineries take to maintain and further grow the grapes. How are the vines trellised? Do the wineries perform green harvest where they trim back some of the unripened leaves?
Although, the ultimate time is to visit and take a Tuscan wine tour at the end of the season. There is nothing like watching the grape harvest. The anticipation of what the grapes on the vine will produce as an end product in the bottle allows one to wait with wonder. While you are there watching this fascinating event take place you still get to take part in wine tastings of previous vintages at the winery.
The end of the harvest culminates with all the hard work and labor that is celebrated amongst the harvest workers and participants of the grape harvest. Food, wine and good company is thoroughly enjoyed. Salute!