Grape harvest is an important appointment in southern Tuscany rural life. Grapes grow under southern Tuscany summer sun and are ready to be picked up and traformed in late August and September. I’m a fan of organic farming so I’m so happy I got invited to visit an organic farm: MB Agricultura Biologica. This farm is managed by a couple, Marco and Claudia, that recognized the importance of organic farming since the beginning in 1997. They have 1000 olive trees and 2 hectares of vineyard. They also own 8 hectares of arable land on which they grow local species of ancient grains, chickpeas, lentils and saffron. They are what they call “custodian farmers”, fighting against seeds homologation.
Both wine and oil production processes take place completely within the farm, as they have their own cellar and a mill. In this post, I’ll focus on the wine. Four kind of vines grow here, with no help but the sun, the rain and the slightly salty air coming for the near seaside: Sangiovese, Merlot, Carbenet and Alicante. Mixing Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet, they produce a pink wine called Paraggio Rosato. With Sangiovese and Alicante they produce a red wine called Paraggio Selezione that will be stocked into a wood barrel. Finally, from 100% Sangiovese vine comes the red wine Paraggio Rosso.
Each grape is picked up manually in order to select the best ones, without damaging the plant. Grapes go into plastic boxes, left under the plants’ shade so they don’t heat up. Then boxes are loaded on the tractor, that goes straight to the cellar. It’s very important to start the winemaking process as soon as possible. Here, a machine separates branches and leaves from the grapes. Then, grapes are coarsely crushed and the “grape juice” is sent to the steel barrels. The fermentation process starts: grape juice is becoming wine! Some days later, peels are collected and sent to an external distillery that will make grappa out of them.
Grape harvest and the following steps are just a little part of the job. As Claudia told me, the hardest part is not the harvest itself (I would have said it was, because selecting every single grape under the tuscan sun isn’t easy at all!) not even the next phases are. The harderst part is making the plants grow in the right way, spending days in the vineyard during the coldest months, taking care of every single plant with no chemical medicine, only with your love and the awareness that Nature perfectly knows how to create special things.