This week, Bele Casel grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro shared the photo above on the winery’s Facebook.
Each of those stalks is what you call barbatella in Italian.
The correct English translation of the term is rooted cutting.
After being cut from a vine in a given vineyard, the stalks (or canes, as they are called because they have borne fruit) are trimmed of all but just the top few buds.
They are then planted in pots or potting sacks where they will grow throughout the winter until the spring.
In the spring, they will be planted in the place of old, unproductive vines that have been grubbed up. Or they might be used to expand a given vineyard, in sections that have been damaged or diseased or were never used in the first place.
The idea behind the rooted cutting is that it passes down the plants’ genetic code.
This is very important for maintaining the genetic continuity of a given vineyard.
In this case, the vineyard in question is the winery’s Monfumo vineyard, its most prized growing site and home to the estate’s oldest vines.
While old vines are ideal for the production of wines with great depth of flavor, there is a threshold where they stop being productive enough to justify their presence. But the winemaker doesn’t want to lose their unique and distinctive character.
The rooted cutting is a way to preserve that genetic continuity and to ensure that the vineyard will continue to produce top wines.