End of the season…

It’s all over, apart from a few dried grapes and routine work in the cantina. Now is the time when you clean up your stuff from this year and get some things ready for next year.

First there’s the beloved grape cassettes. During the harvest, it is required by Italian law that the cassettes be cleaned (i.e. ‘rinsed’) every time they’re used. At the end of the picking, the casettes need a really good cleaning, with hot water and high pressure:
End of season The guys are wearing heavy rain gear because water is flying everywhere. The cassettes are braced against the pallets because the pressure would blow them away. When finished, they are air-dried and wrapped with plastic, ready for next year’s picking.
Normally this is a wet and unpleasant job, but sometimes Madre Natura gives us a little scenery to take our minds off the drudgery…


Then there’s pruning….

Here’s Cristiano cutting away at a vine:
Prune1 The team moves through the vineyard in 2 waves. The first wave are the specialists who know exactly where to cut. It’s a fairly exact process, and grave errors can result in greatly reduced, or even a total loss, of production next year. The second wave simply pulls and cuts loose the material that’s been cut away and is hanging in the wires:
Prune2 Look at all that growth on the vine. You’ll see how this plant started out at the beginning of the season after the next picture.
In this pic, you can see that Umberto is about halfway done stripping away the old growth on the left side:
Prune4  And here is a look at the vine when pruning is finished:
Prunedone The last step is to tie down the two canes to the wire and we’re all set for next spring.

I only did pruning once during my days on the production side, and it was January, if I remember well. The weather was crisp and breezy. The air clean. The mountains in the distance were crystal clear. It was sublime… So much so that I worked really slowly, ruining my chances of every being asked to do it again. Also, the way Emilio explained the process to me, I was so nervous about making a mistake that I looked at the vines from every angle and counted the buds on each cane. One thing in my favor was that 1999 was an awesome vintage and the vines that I pruned that January made some incredible wine…


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