Category: harvest 2014

Prosecco Diaries: December 2014

Days in December are spent either pruning or working in the cellar.

December 4 – A little gift before the holidays as approach 5,000 followers on Twitter.

italian winery twitter

December 11 – One of the first really cold days.

italian vineyard rose

December 12 – La Repubblica, another one of Italy’s most important newspapers, writes about ColFòndo.

articles about col fondo

December 14 – This year we had a regular Christmas tree but we also wanted to recreate a row of vines by hanging them from a wall in the cellar.

vineyard christmas tree

December 17 – We taste the Asolo Prosecco Brut before we bottle it. Our work — in the vineyard first and later in the cellar — is delivering impressive results. 6 gramms of residual sugar, taut and lively. Citron peel, mandarin orange. Rich flavor and serious drinkability.

golden bubbles prosecco champagne

December 20 – Some shepherds stop by to say hello in the vineyards. It’s an economic way cut the grasses and to fertilize your vineyards naturally! They’ll be back in the spring for another pass.

sheep in the vineyards

December 22 – We loaded another container with our wine bound for the Australian market.

prosecco australia

December 26 – The brut we bottled a few days ago seems to have golden bubbles.

prosecco glass

December 28 – We hang up our shears so that we can rest for a few days.

shears pruning italy vineyards

 

Here’s what was happening in December 2012.

Here’s December 2013.

Prosecco Diaries: November 2014

November is the month when we generally begin pruning.

November 4 – Fall has arrived in Monfumo, where we have our top vineyard. best vineyard prosecco

The old vines are losing their leaves as well. old vines fall

Just as we do every fall, we alternate between rainy days and clear skies as we take advantage of downtime to label the wine that we’ll ship to the U.S. mushroom cork wine sparkling

November 11 – Year’s end meeting with the Fraternity of Asolo-Montello winemakers. traditional costume winemaker italy

November 17 – We begin the day by tasting all the tanks to determine if the base wines for Prosecco are evolving correctly. As we imagined, the best tank is from our vineyard in Monfumo. winemaker famous prosecco

November 24 – We finally begin pruning. electric shears pruning vines

November 26 – We spent the morning studying a new type of “natural” container. I have to say that Clayver containers have been conceived and developed very intelligently. Maybe we’ll test them on our Rabbiosa during the next vintage. winemaking egg clayvey

November 27 – We purchased new electric shears that allow us to monitor how many cuttings we make in a day’s work. We’re talking about 8,000-10,000 cuttings in five hours. grape vine electric shearer

November 28 – We’re featured in the Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s most important newspapers. best italian wine writer

November 30 – The Federation of Independent Italian Grape Growers holds its wine market. The general assembly on Sunday morning includes an impressive number of growers united in their cause and committed to changing the world of wine. fivi wine italy

Prosecco diaries: October 2014

Some might think that once harvest is over, the grape grower and winemaker get to enjoy a quiet and restful period. Unfortunately, this is not the case. October is a month that often finds us working in the vineyards preparing the soil so that we can seed the cover crop.

This year, we weren’t able to till all the vineyards because the rain forced us to concentrate our efforts on the vineyards with “drier” soils. The only work that we were able to do in our Cornuda vineyard was to hoe and earth up the rows between the vines.

October also meant more harvest for us this year.

October 4 – The earth was indomitably hard. We worked the soil patiently and creatively and on this day, after a lot of hard work, we were happy with the results we obtained. Proud that we had “house broken” a growing site that hadn’t seemed to find its balance.

subsoil prosecco

October 6 – We went to Venice for a tasting where we showed our wines.

venice sunset

October 7 – We were still tired from our trip to Venice the day before but we picked right up again working the soil in the vineyards.

tractor soil vineyard italy

And that evening, we went back to Venice for another tasting.

wine tastings venice

October 10 – We always try to combine work and pleasure. So while we were hoeing the soil between the rows, we lit a fire and roasted chestnuts that we had gathered in our woods.

chestnuts roasting vineyard recipe italy

October 13 – We celebrated my father’s 61st birthday and the more than 40 harvests he’s worked. He’s the true backbone of Bele Casel.

happy birthday in italian

October 10 – We prepared the soil to be seeded. In this photo, you can see that the center of the row is darker than the rest. That’s vegetable compost that we had distributed a few days earlier.

vineyard prosecco asolo

As soon as the soil has been tilled, we seed it by hand (no machinery is used).

cover crop

October 19 – Our friends sent us some photos of themselves drinking Bele Casel. We were really proud to see these images and we posted them on our Facebook.

prosecco with friends

October 31 – We harvested our Rabbiosa grapes. It’s a historic variety of Asolo.

Luca Ferraro
grape grower and winemaker

rabiosa

Now that the dust has settled: thoughts on the 2014 vintage

 

best prosecco 2014

The harvest is over. We still need to pick a few tons of Rabbiosa, which, in a vintage like this one, takes an extra long time to ripen.

The grapes are waiting on the vines for a ray of sun. And we are waiting for its off-the-charts acidity to come down a little bit before we pick them.

Looking back to a summer that made us work harder than ever before, I can’t help but think of the countless hours we spent in the vineyards and the amount of stress that we accumulated. Now that the dust has settled, I can finally take stock of the vintage.

I’ve said it many times before, it was our work in the vineyards and our growing sites that made the difference. And we were fortunate to have been spared the late hailstorms that caused tremendous damage elsewhere.

In order to bring home ripe grapes this year, we had to work as a team, putting in long, tough hours in the vineyard and carefully coordinating our efforts. Everyone at Bele Casel did their best and I can’t thank them enough for sticking it out to the end.

Could we have done better? Of course, we could have.

We made a few small mistakes this year that we probably could have avoided if we hadn’t been working under such pressure. Regardless, I believe that we’re on the right path and I’m convinced that time will prove me right.

I’d like to the thank the following team members:

Luciano and Claudio, the two guys who work with us and truly did the impossible this year.

My sister Paola, who ran from vineyard to vineyard every day collecting samples from our vines.

My father and his 40 years of experience. During the harvest, he was able to maintain calm when the rest of us would have otherwise been panic-stricken.

My mother and my wife, who had to endure our long workdays.

My two sons, who didn’t get to see a lot of me during those days.

My vineyard team: Armin, Paolo, Patrick, and Giacomo. They taught me a lot this year and they reassured me that I was doing the right thing by laying down my arms (i.e., vineyard treatments) while other neighboring farms continued to spray whatever products they could find to save their grapes.

The tractor that didn’t let us down, even though it’s 11 years old and has logged nearly 6,000 working hours.

The hills of Asolo. You’ll forever be in my heart. Your what made the difference this year.

Our vineyard in Monfumo, which gave us stupendous fruit this year.

Luca Ferraro
grape grower and winemaker

Prosecco diaries: September 2014

We harvested in the month of September. It was a very difficult vintage between the unfavorable weather and the time we lost sorting through the grapes that weren’t suitable for making a quality Prosecco.

I don’t remember ever having to go through such a stressful harvest. We pushed all of our vines to the limit as we monitored their health and ripening on a daily basis.

As I wrote in a previous post, every vine gave different and highly varied results.

Here’s what happened in the month of September.

September 6: we continued to analyze grape samples to understand the progress of ripening.

grape lab analysis

September 9: we began to pick and we brought the first grape must into the cellar.

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Harvest is over

end harvest prosecco 2014

Harvest at Bele Casel began on September 9 and was completed on September 24.

Stay tuned for grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro’s notes on the winemaking process.

It’s been an extremely difficult vintage, without a doubt.

But he has high hopes for the wines despite the challenges he faced in the vineyard this year.

Thanks for being here and following along. We’ll be posting updates on vinification shortly.

Notes on harvest halfway through

prosecco acidity 2014Yesterday we didn’t pick grapes here at Bele Casel. We worked in the cellar instead.

This year, the grape harvest has a rhythm completely different from other years. It’s been difficult to pick over the course of a whole day because it continues to rain at least once a day here. The selection of the grapes in the vineyards takes up a lot of time and as a result, the normal rhythms of harvest are much slower.

In the morning we let the wet grapes dry. In the afternoon, we pick grapes as long as the weather permits.

State of the grapes:

Overall, the health of the grapes is good. Some vineyards have had a few problems and so we decided to pick on the early side. Other vines have very healthy fruit and so we’ll wait another few days to pick them. We’ll begin picking Glera grapes in Maser (in part), Monfumo, and the Caerano hillsides toward the end of this week.

Ripening:

To date, we have picked part of the Cornuda vineyard, part of the Maser vineyard, and the Caerano vineyard as well. We analyze the grapes every day and we have found that the acidity is much higher with respect to previous vintages.

The malic acid in particular is high and the sugar content is slightly lower. We attribute this to the fact that warm weather and sunshine didn’t arrive in July and August. For sparkling winemakers like us, this is somewhat of a problem because all of our wines need to undergo a second fermentation that will take the alcohol level to roughly 11 percent.

Quality of the grapes:

I can’t hide the fact that I was very pessimistic up until a few weeks ago. I thought all of this water would have made the grapes insipid and lacking in flavor. But I was very relieved when the first Glera bunches arrived at the winery.

Fermentation:

Fermentation in the first tanks has begun and there don’t seem to be any problems. Maybe it’s time to be optimistic and wait until the truth emerges on its own when we stick our noses into a glass of Asolo Prosecco DOCG Superiore.

Luca Ferraro grape grower and winemaker

Prosecco harvest has begun!

prosecco harvest 2014

Grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro posted the photo above on the Bele Casel Facebook earlier today: he and the Ferraro family began picking their grapes this early morning.

If you’ve been following along here on the blog, you know that this is going to be an extremely challenging vintage for them: heavy rains in July and unusually cool temperatures in August created some serious issues in the vineyards.

But the last few weeks have been sunny and things are looking up. And Luca is confident that the best vineyards will deliver excellent fruit with high levels of acidity.

The fact that he began picking today is a very positive sign: he was concerned, at one point, that the fruit wouldn’t be ready until later in September. But the first week of September is a “classic” time to begin the harvest there.

Stay tuned: we’ll be translating and posting updates as they arrive from the vineyards and the winery.