Harvest 2016: the first week

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Harvesting started last week here in Soave. We’re not actually picking the garganega (the emblematic grape variety here) for at least another ten days but the chardonnay, merlot and trebbiano is done.

If you were wondering what life is like here at the winery, here is a run-through of my day today:

08.00 – I’ve just wolfed down breakfast, which, this morning, consisted of just a coffee and a couple of biscuits. My boots are on and my water bottle has been refilled; I’m ready to jump on the tractor and head out to the vineyard. Normally we start at 7am, but last night we got home at 1am (after the Soave Versus tasting in Verona) and such an early wake-up call would have been very difficult.

Until 13.00, there’s a team of five of us in the vineyards picking the last of the chardonnay grapes. There’s an experienced Polish guy, a local Italian, winemaker Filippo and his nephew (on work experience) and myself. The banter back and forth doesn’t stop.

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Mattia play-fighting with Taddeo.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a certain amount of Brexit mockery. Fortunately, Mattia (Filippo’s nephew) is from Vicenza… and if there’s anything that people from Verona and Soave like to do most, it’s tease people from Vicenza!

13.00 – we come back to the house for a quick lunch. It’s just a plate of pasta and a coffee but it hits the spot perfectly.

14.00 – I’m in the office this afternoon and have a phone call with one of our guys in Canada regarding the upcoming tender submissions.

In case you were under any misconception that my new lifestyle is in any way glamorous and frivolous, filling out the form meant that I had to measure the exact weight of a cork (between 4-5 grams, in case it ever comes up in a pub quiz) and of an empty glass bottle (between 400 and 550g, FYI.)

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While this is happening, Filippo is next-door in the cellar, working on the merlot and chardonnay.

The merlot (which we picked yesterday) is being de-stemmed and then will made into either a red or rosé wine. It could go either way and there’s much umm-ing and aah-ing about the destiny of this delicious merlot. For perspective, we try the Roaron rosé 2014 and the red from 2015 but Filippo is still undecided.

The boys are doing all the remontages this afternoon so I’m able to get on with other things.

However, from time to time, I’ll be in the office or working on my computer in the kitchen and Filippo will bring a couple of glasses of fermenting grape juice. We’ll then decide which tanks to blend.

17.00: I welcome for four Swedish tourists to the winery for a visit and tasting. They arrived earlier this afternoon at the adjacent campsite so I spend an hour with them.

18.00: For the first time in at least a month, the clouds have gathered over the Soave valley and the rain comes down in torrents. The atmosphere here changes so quickly (especially because over the last few days, the average temperature has been 30°C) so having dried off, I’m back on my computer, sending emails and working on other projects (including this blog post!)

20.30: It’s almost dinner time, so I’m going to go to back over to the kitchen and see what’s cooking. Dinner also is when Filippo, Paola and I get to sit down and discuss the plans for the next day. Every day brings new challenges, but one thing is certain: this non-stop rhythm will not ease off until the harvest is over.

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