During our trip to Tuscany last month we rented an apartment within a farmhouse on the edge of the hill city Montepulciano. There were a few other people staying there over the course of the week, but it mostly felt secluded and private and we loved setting up camp there for several days.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon to find the entire extended family harvesting Sangiovese grapes and preparing them for sorting and pressing. It’s an exciting process, made all the more special since we were able to drink the wine the family produces. It was fun to see them all joking around with one another during the annual tradition. We didn’t necessarily help in any meaningful way, but we liked tagging along nonetheless.
In fact, as you drive through the countryside in late September and early October you can see many family and friends completing the same laborious task. We had initially intended to go to Bordeaux and northern Spain for this trip but the harvest in France is much more secluded and they don’t encourage visitors. It was a treat to be welcomed in Italy during this special time of year.
Sangiovese, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon—among others—are all regional varieties here and each type of grape is usually picked at a different time. For instance, the family was picking Sangiovese grapes (found in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, etc.) that day but would wait a week or two longer to pick Merlot grapes. They were looking for specific weather conditions, grape density, color, and other variables that are hard to pick up on for the untrained eye. It always amazes me what care and consideration go into making wine.
As they were wrapping up the day’s harvest we got a little tour of their cellar and barrels. They only make enough wine to give to the family and their friends, which is such a wonderful gift. They work hard to maintain and care for their vineyard and it was really neat to see a very tiny part of the process.