In the wine industry it is often said that good wine is born in the vineyard. The outcome is not random. Harvest period is in fact one of the most important periods of the entire winemaking process. It coincides with the moment that grapes have reached a desired degree of phenolic maturity, which means when the bunch of grapes releases aromas that are characteristic of the vineyard and grape type. It is in this period that grapes will have also reached their maturity in balance and sugar.
Ripening conditions vary from territory to territory, soil to soil, vine to vine and climate to climate but generally it is customary to harvest between August, September and first ten days of October. Depending on the vineyard, it is even possible to extend this to November – for example in the case of the passito wine varieties. Wines with a higher sugar content such as these requiring an over-ripening of the grapes. Depending on the vineyard, the harvest process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for the grapes to pass from the vineyard to the cellar where the must is transformed.
It is important that the grape bunches are perfectly intact, they are well packed into their crates for transport so that they can avoid any risk of pre-fermentation en-route. This would alter the balance and taste of the must. In short, it is necessary to avoid throwing away anything which could be of use, to make good of the months of hard work out on the land. The grapes then brought to the cellar will be immediately crushed to prevent heat and atmospheric agents to create an uncontrolled fermentation of the bunches.
All grapes are well de-stemmed and the process of the separation of the berry from the stalk is carried out. The stalk, which is rich in tannins, is vinified together with the grapes so they could transmit an excessive quantity to the must. This produces wine with a pungent and astringent taste to them. The phase of the transformation of grapes into must marks the end of the harvest and beginning of a new and exciting phase – the fermentation and vinification process! This will take place in climate-controlled wine cellars.