We’ve seen other hailstorms… but perhaps the last one always seems to be the worst.
Over the last few days before the end of August, we harvested and vinified the white grapes for Soave.
Everything went as planned – grape ripening, alcohol and acidity – and Soave 2007 is now resting and perfecting on the noble parts of the lees.
The harvest of red grapes was planned to begin on Monday 10 September.
Thursday 30 August around 11 in the morning: we were all around – some of us in the vineyards, others in the cellars – making the final preparations.
A sudden and violent storm came with huge, dry and driven hailstones.
20 minutes later, everything was absolutely back to normal, sunny and quiet.
Yet we lost 50% of the grapes and what was left would be difficult to use for Amarone and Recioto.
We absolutely have no intention of “treating” these grapes with who-knows-what type of product We immediately set to work.
The harvest began the following day – all the grapes simply had to be picked within 5 days.
Thanks even to GRANDMOTHER from the kitchens, grape-pickers, friends, sisters and all – we managed to do it!
Most of the grapes were pressed immediately and we were delighted to see an excellent must. A small quantity of grapes for Valpolicella Ripasso was set aside with great care for drying.
We are very pleased with the wine obtained. We will still make Ca’ Fiui, a little Mithas and a little Ripasso. As for Amarone and Recioto (this year’s grape will be pressed about one month earlier than usual), we will have to wait for September 2008 and the end of fermentation, after a Summer in wood, to understand the realistic quality of these wines.
Until 14 August, absolutely everything was perfect: balanced leaf growth, vine health, quantity and ripening.
The grape pickers, as usual, had already been hired and two hailstorms had spared our vineyards: Federico and I were already making rosy predictions.
Everything seemed just within our grasp.
Only it all turned into wind, rain, storms … and hail.
Sunday 14 August: a ten-minute, unbroken dry hailstorm partly destroyed the work of an entire year.
Since then, for two months, we have worked tirelessly and stubbornly in the vineyards to restore some semblance of dignity, taking care of the grapes and new leaf growth to prepare the harvest once again.
Today, a truly autumnal 10 October, the harvest is almost finished, the must is fermenting in the vats, selected grapes (the best, but very few) are laid on wooden racks … yet, obviously, all our projects and expectations have been dashed. It is too early to judge the effective quality of Corte Sant’Alda 2005 wines, but some of our labels will certainly not boast a 2005 vintage.
The harvest only finished a while ago but initial summing up is possible.
Mildew this year was relentless, striking with slow but persistent determination. It first appeared towards the end of May.
Continual rainfall meant the problem could not be properly tackled and the larvae continued to cause damage well into September.
Even copper (used for the first time in 6 years) was only a stop-gap measure.
It spread like wildfire and overall losses can be estimated at around 15-20%. It is so true to say that every time mankind tries to dominate Nature, it only becomes more indomitable and unforeseeable than ever.
A slight drought in August and some rain in September caused us to worry over grape quality but the harvest came round and with it the pleasure of seeing all the old faces again and enjoying lunch together.
The usual quantity of Soave was made and grapes were also placed to dry in 5406 racks for our Amarone/Recioto. The conical barrels and vats are now full of new wine. Early in November, Cesar, Nino and Angelo prepared and treated the land for seeding, while the last marcs were pressed in the cellar.
Tomorrow will see us begin the olive harvest.