In Valle d’Aosta the harvest is already in mid-August, but in Sicily, on Etna, perhaps it will begin in mid-September, at least 10 days late. An Italy literally split in two: from North to South, that of the heroic harvest, that is the maneuvers, mostly manual, that are being undertaken to harvest the grapes in the most inaccessible vineyards with the greatest impact on biodiversity in the Belpaese. To take stock is Cervim, the Center for Research, Studies, Safeguarding, Coordination and Enhancement for Mountain Viticulture, which has the pulse of the situation of all the wineries located in the most remote and hardly practicable corners – heroic in fact – of Italy.
As anticipated, early harvest of twenty days in Valle d’Aosta and lower production (30% drop) due to drought and heat. Those who were able to irrigate half of the Valle d’Aosta vineyard were saved. “The quantity is decreasing – comments Stefano Celi, Cervim president and Aosta Valley winemaker – in the whole of the Aosta Valley, those who have been able to carry out emergency irrigation have not suffered significant decreases in product, those who have not had this possibility, especially in the terraces and steps where there is less drainage, the productions are really scarce. As for the quality we will have to wait for the grapes in the tanks. The early harvest is around three weeks: the Blanc de Morgex, grown at high altitudes, is harvested as early as the end of August, while the Petit rouge (Torrette and Chambave) will be harvested from mid-September. The situation is aggravated – concludes Celi – from the general context, with the increase in production costs in particular of energy and fuels which have increased both the costs of irrigation and processing and of raw materials, to which is added the scarce availability of glass bottles that can be found with difficulty”.
There is expectation for the harvest of His Majesty Nebbiolo (Chiavennasca) symbol of the viticultural biodiversity of Valtellina, where production is expected to drop by 20% and a difficult year due to drought and heat. “The drought has also affected the vineyards of Valtellina”, says Danilo Drocco, president of the Consorzio Vini Valtellina and director of the Nino Negri winery. “The few rains that have occurred were immediately dried by the wind and high temperatures. Furthermore, in the terraces, with little land available, the water is drained and is not available to the plants. Fewer problems at the bottom, where the quality is generally good. The harvest will take place one week in advance, in the last week of September ”.
The harvest of the Cantina di Aldeno, in Trentino Alto Adige, has already begun, more than 15 days in advance, where abnormal heat and prolonged drought have set the harvesting machine in motion. “A vintage that we will remember not so much for the quality, which is also found in the bunches harvested, as for the uncertainties in the organization, dictated by harvest times never seen before”, explains the director of the Trentino Cooperative, Walter Weber. We started with sparkling white wines, Pinot Noir and Lagrein is just around the corner. “We are particularly concerned about the acidity of red wines, which nevertheless have had a hand from the rains of the last few days – continues Weber – here we can expect a change in the behavior of the vines, therefore a different viticultural approach, with wines with high alcohol content. “.
In the Colli del Candia and Colli Apuani area (province of Massa-Carrara), the situation is not so different, with a harvest that is starting these days, 10 days earlier than the norm. “The climate inevitably changes, but our advantage is that we can still invest in support water resources, if anything will be needed in the future”, comments the president of the Consorzio del Candia Colli Apuani and owner of the Calevro winery, Fabrizio Bondielli. “The lack of viticulture in our area would mean hydrogeological landslide, displacement of the hilly landscape and loss of identity – concludes Bondielli – biodiversity has saved our heroic viticulture”.
Overlooking the Amalfi coast, in Furore (Salerno), the vineyards of Marisa Cuomo are ready for the harvest, without particular problems or advances dictated by the climatic situation, here it is biodiversity that protects the vine. “Ours are ungrafted vines that are over 80 years old – explains Andrea Ferraioli, owner and agronomist – and react to the heat in a natural way, exploiting the humidity created in the dry stone walls that support them and in the vaporization of the sea, the pergolas do the rest by keeping the ground in the shade “. The problem is another in Furore: manpower. “We cannot find people who can resist the heaviness of heroic viticulture, all manual and in extreme conditions, not suitable for those suffering from vertigo”, continues Ferraioli.
On the island of Antioco (Carbonia-Iglesias), everything is ready for the harvest of the whites, slightly earlier than last year, but, on the contrary, the heat and drought have stopped the ripening of the Carignano. “We have centenary vines that react naturally to climate change, we cannot even foresee irrigation on the island, even if it is allowed, so the choice to have continued on planting sixths considered archaic was the secret of maintaining the vine”, says the president of the Sardus Pater winery, Raffaele De Matteis.
Finally, in Sicily, along the slopes of Etna, in Castiglione di Sicilia (Catania), the right moment is expected to begin, in canonical times, the collection of sparkling white wines, probably by mid-September (with at least a week’s delay ). The rains of the last two weeks have in fact stopped ripening. For reds like Nerello Mascalese you will have to wait until October. “The ongoing climate change has led to the ripening of wine grapes at a thousand meters, which did not happen until less than ten years ago – comments Vincenzo Bambino, the oenologist of the Tornatore cellars – so harvesting high was a bet that today is proving us right. I can confidently say that in our 60 hectares I could be able to obtain completely different wines from the same grapes and this is the added value of Etna and the luck of those who, like Tornatore, have bet here in unsuspecting times “, girl concludes.