Category: harvest 2016

Slow Wine Snail and other good news in September: Prosecco Diaries

September was harvest month and it was also a period in which we received some great news.

The grapes are fantastic this year. The acidity is healthy, as are the sugar levels. The grapes tasty and even have a nearly salty flavor to them. We have really great expectations for this vintage.

Complete ripening that took place in different phases allowed us to manage our harvest with just the right pace and without any major problems.

We were thrilled to share the news that our family and Bele Casel in its entirety has won the Slow Wine Snail award for the second year in a row.

It’s hard to explain how proud we are. On October 15, we attended the official presentation of the Slow Wine guide in Montecatini, where all the winners poured their wines, including us.

September 5 – We taste the grapes to determine whether or not our impressions are correct.

glera asolo docg

September 7 – Our winery is featured in Saveur .

saveur magazine colfondo

September 8 – The harvest begins.

vendemmia prosecco asolo docg

We have some very important helpers this year. They are the third generation of Bele Casel.

vendemmia prosecco asolo

September 10 – We have the great honor of spending a day with Melissa Brauer aka The Prosecco Queen who came directly from Australia. In July 2015 she wrote that Bele Casel is one of the best examples of Prosecco from Italy (photo taken at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne), perfectly balanced, not too sweet, with notes of pear and a slightly creamy texture. “Delicious!” she wrote.

prosecco bele casel australia

September 12 – We are already getting ready for the November wine fair.

bele casel fivi

September 14 – The last load of Glera grapes for the day.

vendemmia glera

September 15 – It’s evening and another day of picking is done. The press has finished its cycle and now it’s time for it to be washed.

pressatura prosecco

September 16 – Another work day begins.

vendemmia prosecco

September 19 – Bianchetta trevigiana.

bianchetta trevigiana

And Perera from our Monfumo vineyard.

perera

It seems that working in the Monfumo vineyard has its benefits!

vendemmia manuale prosecco

September 21 – We thought this would be our last day of picking but it turned out not to be…

vendemmia prosecco

So we took time out to wash our tanks.

pulizia vasche

Snails and rain in the vineyard: Prosecco Diaries June

Snails are a great sign in the vineyards. It means that there are no chemicals. But rain creates big challenges for organic farmers like us.

June was a really difficult month for us. Rain every day, concentrated mostly in the afternoons. We are talking about 200mm of rainfall in 30 days. And I remind you that 255mm fell in May.

We were only able to spray the vines when the weather permitted us to enter into the vineyards planted to Glera. Problems on the bunches, due to so many hours of being wet, began to emerge.

We trained the vineyards and trimmed the canopy making sure to aerate the bunches. Those who practice organic farming have to make this type of vineyard management a priority.

It rained during flowering. And it rained during fruit-set. We are very concerned.

The challenge to deliver a great Asolo Prosecco docg Superiore has only just begun.

June 2 – Happy Italian Republic Day!

festa repubblica vigneto

June 6 – A lot of rain in a short period of time. This is the result: A small landslide in our vineyard in Monfumo.

frana monfumo

June 10 – We’ll let you in on a little secret. This is why grape growers stay so slim.

13412163_1205518642812105_2736304522979857133_o

June 11 – A magnum of our ColFòndo paired with oysters at one of our favorite wine shops, Biondivino in San Francisco.

colfondo ostriche

June 13 – Snails in the vineyards. Maybe it’s because we were awarded the Slow Wine “snail” prize last year?

chiocciola slow wine glera

June 14 – Here’s a photo of that damned peronospora.

peronospora glera asolo

June 16 – We finished “topping” (i.e., trimming) the canopy of the vines in Cornuda. Sometimes it’s a real luxury to be able to work seated atop a tractor.

cimatura glera

June 30 – The order for Moore Brothers is ready to go!

asolo prosecco usa

Peronospora (downy mildew) is very hard for organic farmers like us to combat in vintages like this

Peronospora (downy mildew) is extremely difficult to combat if you don’t use chemicals in the vineyards.

After the 2013 vintage, which will be remembered for the concentrated rainfall in the spring, the 2014 vintage was truly horrible because of the never-ending rains at the end of the growing season. The 2015 vintage was marked by intense drought and very high summer temperatures. I’ll remember the 2016 vintage as one of the most challenging for growers who farm organically (you can follow the vintage month by month by keeping up with our winery vintage diary).

I spent a lot of time pondering over whether or not I should write this post. They say that a good salesperson should only talk about the company’s successes.

But I’m a believer in sincerity and transparency and this is why I have chosen to share this not-so-pleasant aspect of the work that we do.

The months of June and July were devastating. The rain really put our preparedness, our vineyards, and our monitoring of the vines to the test.

Until a few weeks ago, we were still very happy with the work we were doing. The amount of copper we were spraying was (and still is) within a healthy limit. Our goal in reducing the use of copper had been achieved and the percentage of damaged bunches was acceptable. This was probably due to the fact that in the area affected by rain, 10-20 percent of the spots on the leaves had been blocked thanks to the use of a natural product (K&A Oomisine). All in all, the vines were healthy.

But today, after the umpteenth visit to the vineyards, we realized that the situation is getting worse and our hearts just sank into the abyss.

We have fought using the few weapons that were available to us. But evidently, copper and terroir and know-how weren’t enough in a vintage like this one.

Our vineyards in Monfumo, Maser, and 3 of the six hectares in Cornuda have small, insignificant problems (for the moment). The remaining vineyards have serious peronospora damage as you can see from the bunch in the photograph.

The only thing we can do now is to try to stop the infection with a couple of back-to-back treatments in the hope that the copper, when applied in greater but still reasonable amounts, doesn’t create problems for the vegetation.

Organic farming in vintages like this one forces us to come to terms with the indisputable fact that the force of Mother Nature — my goodness — is not easy to counter.

We need to accept our partial defeat and we need to keep on learning.

And as my friend Paolo says, “you made it through 2014 and you’ll make through 2016 as well. Then you will become old and wise and then you will die. That’s how it always is. Paranoia doesn’t do anyone any good.”

California and Hawaii sun, excessive rainfall back home. Prosecco Diaries May 2016

California and Hawaii were so welcoming during our May visits. Excessive rainfall back home was worrisome.

May is the month of flowering, a very delicate period for the grape grower that forces us to keep our guard up high and spend many hours in the vineyards to make sure that everything is proceeding correctly. Having rot in the vineyards during this period is a gamble that Glera grapes can’t afford. We could risk having significant damage on the grape bunches. 255 milliliters of rain fell during this year in May. That’s a lot for this time of year.

May 2 – Serving and storing temperature is so important. That’s why we believe that the choice of the right wine fridge is essential.

prosecco asolo temperatura

May 4 – Today we realized that it wasn’t the right moment to use our we torcher. The hay from the manure we spread last fall could be very dangerous.

pirodiserbio vigna bio

May 9 – From left, clockwise: Glera, Marzemina Bianca, and Rabbiosa.

glera rabbiosa

May 16 – A tasting on the Island of the Roses (Isola delle Rose) in Venice.

isola delle rose venezia

At the same time, we were also in California for the beginning of a wine tasting tour. First stop was a tasting at the Italian-American museum in San Francisco.

bele casel san francisco

And then we went to Biondivino, one of our favorite wine shops anywhere in the world.

bele casel biondivino

May 20 – Lunch Valentino Santa Monica. We had the honor of meeting Piero Selvaggio, the man who changed Italian cuisine in the United States. Here’s a perfect pairing: Our Extra Brut with fried zucchini blossoms, cheese, and balsamic vinegar.

valentino santa monica

Then we went to Sotto to say hello to Christine Veys, the restaurant’s sommelier and general manager. They serve our ColFondo by the glass.

colfondo los angeles

And we had dinner at a restaurant called Pistola, where our Extra Dry is served by the glass from magnums.

bele casel los angeles

May 23 – The first day of our tastings in Hawaii in Honolulu. How could we not wear a necklace of orchids? It’s called a lei.

bele casel hawaii

Dinner at The Pig and the Lady. Andrew Le, the chef did such a great job pairing our wines with really interesting dishes.

bele casel extra dry hawaii

May 24 – Then we headed to Kauai, another one of the Hawaiian islands where we did a seminar and tasting at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort.

colfondo bele casel hawaii

May 26 – The last day in Hawaii. Tasting at the restaurant Spago at the Four Seasons on Maui.

prosecco bele casel hawaii

May 27 – Flowering has begun in the vineyards in Caerano. If everything goes well, the harvest will begin during the first ten days of September. Here are the dates of flowering from past years:

May 21, 2015, May 22, 2014, June 6, 2013, May 29, 2012.

prosecco asolo docg

May 28 – Working in the vineyards, you always discover new life.

biodiversità

Carbonaz and hard work in the vineyard: Prosecco Diaries, April 2016

This year we decided to change the type of soil improvement that we use. Instead of vegetal compost, we are using aged manure. We’ve had the impression that despite our better efforts to keep the soil not too compact, it keeps getting hard. That’s why we decided to use manure under the rows so that it will help keep the soil soft and loose.

April 4 – It seems like the first leaves sprout from one minute to the next while you’re not paying attention.

foglie asolo docg

April 5 – Shovel, sweat, fatigue. Substitution of grafted cuttings in Monfumo.

viti monfumo

April 6 – Early morning views from our Monfumo vineyard.

panorama monfumo

April 6 – A short video to explain the work we do in the vineyards: Manure, plow, hoe, and a small earth mover.

April 8 – Some old grape grower friends.

vignaioli docg

April 10 – On to Vinitaly!

Vinitaly fivi

… starting out right with some good friends.

jeremy parzen adua villa

April 16 – The best thing in the world: Showing one of our importers our appellation by mountain bike for four days straight!

haw river bele casel

April 19 – Grape bunches in Asolo.

grappoli asolo docg

April 21 – The first time we cut the grass in our Monfum vineyard. No need to go to the gym today!

no gliphosate

April 26 – Biodiversity. In our dialect, this is called a carbonaz (a black whip snake).

biodiversità

April 28 – The definition of “Osteria.”

osteria veneta

Prosecco Diaries March 2016: New stakes for the vineyards

This year, unlike last year, we finished pruning early. And so we concentrated on other work we needed to do in the vineyards, like the replacement of dead vines, replacement of broken or crooked stakes, and work on the trellises.

In terms of the swelling up of the buds, we definitely late with respect to 2014 (roughly 10-15 days later) and 2015 (just a couple of days).

March 3 – A new project is underway. In a few months, we will have a new head stake for our vineyards that is truly unique.

palo testata vigna prosecco

March 3 – The skies are ablaze!

luci asolo docg

March 11 – Is there anything more beautiful to see that flowers that bloom between the rows?

monfumo fiori

March 15 – Planting vines in our vineyards in Cornuda.

pianto vite prosecco

March 15 – The first signs of spring in Monfumo.

primule asolo docg

March 16 – With the backdrop of Mount Grappa (a mountain that holds a sacred place in Italian history), the famous Canova Temple (located in Passagno, designed in the early 19th century by the famous sculptor Antonio Canova) and our super Cinquecento.

fiat 500

March 21 – They say that the grape grower’s master is the sky. We head home because of a sudden and unexpected rainstorm.

vita da vignaioli

March 23 – Our work in the vineyard continues. We have finished replacing the head stakes with stakes taken from our woods.

pali testata

March 24 – New life in the Asolo DOCG.

nuova vita asolo docg

March 29 – The vines don’t really care about our worries and our fears. They continue to follow the rhythms of nature. The vines have been working for us for millennia. All they ask in return is a little bit of respect.

gemme asolo docg

Prosecco Diaries February 2016: Pruning in extreme conditions is tough work

Pruning in the vineyards in the cold, wet month of February.

February was an unusual month, alternating between spring temperatures and humid, cold days.

The buds continue to fatten up and they make us pruners a little worried.

Our work proceeds rapidly. We’re devoting all of our time to pruning and making the arched canes. Our whole family is busy working in the vineyards.

February 2 – We begin each day by sharpening our shears with a blade so that we can make clean cuts and go easy on our wrists.

forbice vignaiolo

February 4 – A funny thing: The left glove pulls away the shoots and is getting worn through; the right glove holds the shears and remains intact.

guanti vignaiolo

February 5 — Our Colfòndo in San Francisco at Biondivino

colfondo san francisco

February 19 – The first meeting with our Wine Brother Mirco and Samantha in our Monfumo vineyard. Thank you, Grazie The Winefathers!

winefathers monfumo

February 24 – Prosecco Extra Dry heading to the U.S.A.

prosecco usa

February 25 – Asolo Prosecco DOCG Superiore was featured on the local news broadcast.

bele casel rai

Feburary 26 – It’s so damp that you can feel it in your bones.

potatura

The air is cold, too. There is light rain and our hands are frozen. We dry our gloves over the fire and we drink a little bit of hot tea to warm our bodies and souls.

potatura break

Prosecco Diaries January: brusar a vècia!

Brusar a vècia, a classic tradition of winter in the Veneto.

Luckily, the warm temperatures of early 2016 began to come down. The weather factor is very important during the budding of the vines. The hotter it is, the faster the buds swell up. And that’s a big problem because a lot of time is needed to complete pruning.

gala asolo

January 3 – What’s the best way to start 2016 off right?
Asolo Matinée a gala event that brings a little bit of Vienna to Asolo.

After the show, a toast with our Extra Dry.

pan e vin

January 5 – Just like every year, it’s traditional to “brusar a vècia,” in other words, “burn the old lady at the stake.” You don’t actually burn an old lady but you do make a bonfire and then make predictions about the harvest according to the direction of the flames and the smoke.

“Se ‘l fumo va verso sera (if the smokes moves toward the sunset)
tanta poénta s ‘a calièra! (there will be plenty of polenta [food] in the pot = the harvest will be bountiful)
Se ‘l fumo va a matìna (if the smoke moves toward the sunrise)
ciote el saco e va a farina!” (go get your sack and harvest some flour = the harvest won’t be one of the best)

colli asolani

January 15 – The hills of Asolo illuminated by the morning light.

gemme glera

January 15 – That film on the buds seems to indicate the bud break is close. This is worrisome.

prosecco winter fancy food sf

January 18 – We are showing our wines together with others from the Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers (FIVI) at the Winter Fancy Food Show 2016 in San Francisco.

temperature potatura

January 19 – Now we can really get to work. Pruning at 6° below zero strengthens your body and your mind. Too bad the thermometer was below zero for just a few days!

potatura pausa

January 19 – This is the only way to warm your fingers when they are frozen!

prosecco quotidiano

January 21 – Great to see coverage of Bele Casel in the local papers.

vecchi grappoli

January 25 – Old bunches.

tralci

January 27 – Necessity is the mother of invention. That’s a grape grower’s spoon!