Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again – Tuscan harvest season. For those of you who didn’t know, harvest season is a time in which grapes are reaped in preparation for the detailed fermentation process that takes place in order to create some of the best Italian wine we’ve come to know and love. Typically, harvesting varies depending on what hemisphere a vineyard is located in as well as the type of grape that is needed for a particular wine. For example, “In Germany, the U.S. and Canada, ice wine grapes can be harvested as late as January” whereas, “In California some sparkling wine grapes are harvested in late July to early August at a slightly unripe point to help maintain acidity in the wine”. As Tuscany is located in central Italy, in what is regarded as being apart of the Northern Hemisphere, their harvest season typically occurs in late August through early October.
There are two main forms of harvesting known to winemakers – mechanical harvesting and hand picking. The prior, is the modernized approach to harvesting and has been a point of contention amidst the winemaking community. First introduced in the 1960’s, “A mechanical vine harvester works by beating the vine with rubber sticks to get the vine to drop its fruit onto a conveyor belt that brings the fruit to a holding bin”. Not surprisingly, as a contrast, hand picking is the more traditional form of harvesting where although costly, the main advantage has been recognized as, “the knowledge and discernment of the worker to pick only healthy bunches and the gentler handling of the grapes”.
I for one was ignorant to most of this information upon moving to Florence not too long ago. In fact, some may even assess that I still am! However, this doesn’t change the fact that I also held a fascination and genuine appreciation for the delicate process that is known as wine making. From sunlight to region, to tannins and phenolics, it’s not hard to imagine that those who are involved in the wine industry, at whatever capacity, must be passionately dedicated.
In Tuscany, it is, “…home to some of the world’s most notable wine regions. Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are primarily made with Sangiovese grape whereas the Vernaccia grape is the basis of the white Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Tuscany is also known for the dessert wine Vin Santo, made from a variety of the region’s grapes”.
Naturally, the Italians always seem to know how to do it best, and with this yearly inauguration of the harvest come many celebrations, feasts and festivals in various parts of Tuscany. So, whether or not wine is something you’ve ever been personally interested in, if you’re traveling through the Tuscany – I would definitely mark it down as a necessary experience. Fortunately, Florencetown offers a Tuscany Wine Tour that is available everyday at 9:30a.m. and only lasts for 6.5 hours. Here you have the opportunity to tour two wineries and cellars, partake in wine and olive oil tastings and there is even a traditional Tuscan lunch included. If you’re someone who has always enjoyed learning more about another country’s culture and traditions or you would simply like to take in the panoramic views of the Tuscan rolling hills, then this tour is for you. Click here for more information.
Salute! Cin cin!
[All information from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvest_(wine) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toscana_(wine)]