Our full-on experience of the Carpineto grape harvest begins at the Valcolomba Estate in Gavoranno. We begin our journey in Alta Maremma in the area of Monteregio. We are welcomed by subtle sunlight covered slightly by clouds. The weather is pretty much perfect, ideal weather for grape harvesting. Tradition reigns here, and grapes here are picked by hand. It’s 9 in the morning.
The scenery is suggestive. The vineyards are lush and the colors exude those of grape bunches – rich violets and blues. The ground is reddish. It’s impossible to keep focus on just one of the many colors the rolling hills offer.
This area offers a Mediterranean climate and rainy days can be counted on just one hand. Conditions are perfect for winemaking. It feels almost like Sicily, but the beautiful views are clearly those of Tuscany.
We work our way into the rows of vineyards to meet the grape pickers. Seeing them work was something special. I expected to see the faces of tiredness from manual labor, hard personalities. Instead I was met with smiles and fast but delicate hands cutting bunches of grapes all the while keeping conversation light and fun.
Giampiero is a veteran of this vineyard. He drives the tractor which grape pickers place their crates one by one once full. We ask Giampiero about the types of grapes being harvested and he discretely answers, clearly camera-shy. Off camera, he is full of anecdotes about farm-life, about how artists once lined the road to paint the landscape just outside the estate, which is lined with so many sunflowers one couldn’t help but want to paint them. People still stop, he says, but now they take pictures with their smartphone instead.
We hit record on the camera and Giampiero gets camera ready – the estate is made up of 165 hectares total, and he tells us that the 10 hectares of vineyards are home to Vermentino, Sangiovese and Teroldego. The winery produces wines such as Valcolomba Vermentino della Toscana DOC, a wine that exudes the flavor profile of this particular territory. They also produce Valcolomba Merlot della Maremma Toscana IGT a wine that is characterized by its aromas, body, softness and color.
In order to guarantee the highest of quality, the grapes are handpicked, placed in crates and immediately transported to a refrigerated area in the canteen of Carpineto in Greve in Chianti. They are then turned into wine with modern machinery.
Giampiero goes on to explain that the weather conditions this year have been ideal which means, this year will be a vintage wine year. Even if you are not an expert, you can see it by looking at the fruit. The bunches are healthy and beautiful and this can only be thanks to the weather and near perfect care that goes into each bunch.
Fabio comes along and confirms this by showing us a perfect bunch of grapes, without even one flaw. He tells us these are “perfect for an ideal harvest”. We continue our walk, now with Fabio while the grape pickers around us are still hard at work. He tells us that during grape harvest, there are no “work hours”. Sometimes they work in the fields from early morning to late night in order to take advantage of the good grape-picking weather. You can sort of say – they strike while the iron’s hot! This way they avoid any unforeseen obstacles that may happen.
We tell Fabio that harvest time seems like a lot of hard work. He responds with a great big smile and says – “harvest season is one of the most tiring moments ever, but it is worth the reward.” His smile gets even brighter. “At the end of it all, we enjoy a wonderful meal, we share many laughs and we pat ourselves on the back for having completed another work year”.
Now that is passion.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”3″ gal_title=”La raccolta delle uve a Gavorrano, nell’alta Maremma”]