The Harvest has officially begun!
Today the harvest has officially begun at Tenuta del Buonamico.
The first evidence of the harvest dates back to 10,000 BC, in the areas of the “Fertile Crescent”, that is, today’s Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, as well as, more extensively, also Egypt, lands where the agricultural revolution first took place. This is because the climate was Mediterranean, with long, dry summers and mild, rainy winters, and this favored the growth of cereals and legumes. In addition, natural irrigation due to periodic flooding of the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates rivers helped to make these lands fertile, and to make them suitable for various crops, as well as for breeding.
Here the grape harvest was part of a real religious ceremony of thanksgiving to the Gods for the fruits given to man.
In Ancient Rome, on 19 August the so-called “Vinalia Rustica” was celebrated, that is, a feast in honor of Jupiter, which marked the beginning of the harvest. The grapes were harvested by hand with knife-like tools, collected in small containers and then poured into the “lacus vinaria”, real tanks, where they were pressed. During the harvest, all other activities were suspended, as the whole family gathered to take care of the work in the fields. From this derives the social character of the harvest, also designed to celebrate and to spend time with loved ones.
Traditionally the harvest is done in September. In reality, however, the period in which the harvest begins varies according to the production area, the climate and the wine to be obtained.
In the past, there was no scientific approach to understanding when the time was right to start the harvest. The winemakers relied only on their own experience and knowledge of the grapes, thanks to repeated tastings. Today the experiential factor is always very important, but there are also many scientific tools that allow us to precisely establish the degree of ripeness of grapes.
In fact, ripening involves changes in the chemical-physical characteristics of the grape: for example, there is an increase in the sugar concentration and a decrease in acids.
These parameters can be measured with instruments that can define three different types of maturation:
1- technological maturation: as maturation approaches, the sugar concentration increases while that of acids decreases.
2- phenolic maturation: the riper the grapes, the more they are able to release phenols, responsible for the color and structure of the wine.
3- aromatic maturation refers to the concentration of aromatic substances that progressively increase during maturation.
In general, the grapes reach the ideal degree of ripeness when the three types of ripeness correspond because, in the same time period, the grapes are able to best express their full potential.
At Tenuta del Buonamico the harvest began this morning at 4.30. The harvesting machine was driven by the tractor driver, and passed over the rows making the grapes fall thanks to a vibration. Harvesting the grapes before dawn allows the grapes to be brought to the cellar at a temperature below the average daytime, and this saves the energy used to cool the grapes before pressing. In addition, the plant reacts to thermal stress by swelling the berries during the day and retracting them at night, concentrating its aromatic compounds inside. Finally, the skin remains more elastic, and therefore the grapes are more compact, resistant and easy to transport. The berries will therefore be less subject to damage, thus avoiding early fermentation and oxidation.
The boys interrupted the harvest at 11.00 to continue the work in the cellar. It is expected to stop for two days, and then the harvest will restart at full speed, obviously following the degree of ripeness of each variety.