Category: harvest 2014

Prosecco Diaries: August 2014

August, another difficult month.

Rainfall, although less than July’s, created some problems.

The last part of the month was dry, though, sunny and unusually cool for this time of year.

August 8 – our vegetal compost experiments in the garden started to bear their fruits. You can see how the soil’s fertility is improving.

earthworm composting

August 17 – as I was saying earlier, the weather situation got decidedly better around mid-August and the mood in the Bele Casel home improved as well.

prosecco sunset

August 18 – the Glera bunches are swollen with water and they’re unusually large.

prosecco grapes 2014 rain

August 19 – during one of our visits to the vineyards, we decide to pick some bunches so that we can show you the quality of the grapes we work with. As you can see from my sister Paola’s sweater, it wasn’t very warm that day.

paola ferraro prosecco

Here’s the photo she took:

bianchetta grape variety prosecco

August 21 – more sunny days.

sunny day prosecco asolo

August 22 – we decided to remove all the leaves from the eastern wall of the vineyards and we also removed a few bunches that were showing signs of rot.

deleafing vineyard vine prosecco

August 25 – we experimented with pairings of ColFòndo and French cheeses.

french cheese wine pairing

August 26 – we began mowing the grasses between the rows so as to reduce humidity in the soil.

cover crop prosecco asolo

August 27 – the umpteenth visit to the vineyards.

August 29 – the situation in the Monfumo vineyard is much different.

August 30 – Glera bunches in the Caerano vineyard.

glera bunch vintage 2014 prosecco

—Luca Ferraro
grape grower, winemaker

Praying for the sun in Prosecco

deleafing vineyard vine prosecco

Above: Grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro has been de-leafing the vines and dropping bunches that he doesn’t want to use in vinification. By de-leafing, he allows the vines to see more precious sunlight. It also helps to aerate the bunches and eliminate humidity and subsequent rot and mildew. “We can only pray for sun at this point,” he notes plaintively in the video below.”

In the following video, grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro walks through one of his family’s vineyards and describes the tenuous situation there.

After nearly 20 days of rain in July and an August that has been similarly cool and wet, he is facing an enormous challenge in battling rot and mildew in the vines.

You’ll note how he shows darkened berries in otherwise healthy bunches: the excessive humidity has led to the spread of rot.

“We’re planning to make a meticulous selection of the grapes after harvest,” he says, noting that “we’ve already dropped a lot of fruit in the vineyards in this particularly challenging vintage.”

Toward the end of the clip, you’ll notice how the youngest leaves on the top of the canopy are affected (“burned”) by peronospora. It’s hard to eliminate because it continues to rain every other day or so.

Here’s a link to an English translation of Luca’s last assessment of the situation in the vineyards.

“We can only pray for sun at this point,” he says, noting that at 10 a.m. on August 27, he wore a scarf when he left the house.


Vineyard notes, August 18

Monday, August 18

Yesterday, enjoying a day by myself on my beloved mountain bike, I rode through the rows of vineyards far and wide.

mountain bike veneto

First stop: Monfumo vineyard.

Grasses continue to grow due to the humid soil. The grapes are swollen, more so than I’ve ever seen them. Swollen but healthy.

Prosecco:

prosecco grapes 2014 rain

Bianchetta:

bianchetta grapes veneto prosecco

The youngest, freshest leaves are not totally burned as in other vineyards. This will help us to achieve higher alcohol levels and to allow the bunches to ripen fully.

valdobbiadene rain 2014

I shouldn’t get carried away but I have high hopes for this vineyard.

Seconda tappa: la vigna di Cornuda.

This vineyard is characterized by its uneven development. The less vigorous vines have splendid grapes. The grapes are smaller on more vigorous vines where there is stagnant water.

prosecco vineyards

This vineyard was struck by a hailstorm about a month and a half ago. The bunches on the west side have a few bruised berries. If the weather continues to be dry and cool (as it has been for the last few days), everything should work out fine. The ruined berries will dry out and they shouldn’t cause any problems during harvest.

The hail “blocked” the growth of vegetation here for roughly 10 days. And so the harvest will be delayed as well.

As you can see in the photo, the leaves have been attacked by peronospora. And because of this, we’ll delay the harvest in order to allow the grapes to ripen fully and to achieve the sugar levels that we want.

Third stop: Maser vineyard.

Things are fine here. I’d even go as far as to say that the situation is the same as in the Monfumo vineyard.

As far as the Caerano vineyard is concerned, I’d rather not talk about it. This vineyard has been so badly affected by esca that we are considering replanting part of it. The grapes have been bruised three times by hail. The leaves have been burned by peronospora. And the grapes are ready to burst.

As in recent years, we won’t use grapes from this vineyard to produce our wines.

Conclusions

In a vintage like this one, it’s not easy to make predictions. We still need to see what the weather does. Three or four days or intense rain could change everything.

Cool, sunny days, on the other hand, would be a great relief for us grape growers.

These fall-like temperatures help to preserve aromas and acidity. This morning, August 18, the temperature was 16° C.

We’re waiting to sample the grapes and analyze them in the lab. Gauging from the taste, it seems that the harvest is still a ways off, especially in Monfumo where the “rabid” grapes have off-the-charts acidity.

I’ll post an update as soon as we’ve analyzed some berries.

—Luca Ferraro
grape grower, winemaker

2014 the rainiest year in our lifetime?

rainfall levels northern italy 2014

The graph above shows rainfall in 2012, 2013, and 2014 (to date).

In 2013, 905 mm of rain fell.

In 2014, to date, 1,750.7 mm.

rain veneto 2014

Grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro posted this image on his Instagram at roughly noon local time.

“Dacci oggi il nostro panico quotidiano,” he wrote, “Give us our daily panic today.”

The following screenshot was taken at roughly 2 p.m. local time. Rain is forecast for upcoming days as well.

2014 could possibly be the rainiest vintage in our lifetime. And sadly, as Luca writes with characteristic honestness and earnestness, on his Instagram, it could be “disaster” for growers like him.

rainfall prosecco vintage 2014

Prosecco diaries: July 2014

We will remember July as the most rainy month of the year. It seems that 370 mm of rain fell over the course of the month. There were continuous rains with pauses of at most 48 hours.

The soils are sopped with water and because of this, we couldn’t go into the vineyards with any type of machinery. Every week, we checked up on the health of the grapes and the leaves as we tried to gauge how much this humidity would continue to damage the harvest.
white grape variety italy northern

Walking through the old vineyard in Monfumo, we discovered some surprises: old grape varieties that we had never seen before.
biodiversityWe also concentrated on other work we do, no less important: the management of the woods and bushes around the vineyards, the true source of biodiversity.

I will remember this period for a long time. I don’t want to forget it! Faced with this situation and feeling defenseless has been a formidable stress-test for me. I imagine that it’s the same feeling you get when you see a thief robbing your house and you realize that you can’t do anything to stop the disaster.

Today, the vines are essentially healthy. Obviously, the younger leaves are laden with peronospora and some bunches were struck by hail over the last weeks. Basically, I can say confidently that there are three groups of vines:

– high hill: healthy, prosperous plants because the water never became stagnant and as result the vines could more easily handle this situation.

– mid-level hill: young vines and a few berries struck by peronospora. The berries struck by hail have dried and in a few days, they will fall to the ground.

– flats: this is where the problems are felt the most; the berries struck by hail have not been able to handle the rains and they have been struck by a light attack of botrytits. Fortunately, we will not vinify these grapes and we will focus solely on the hillside-grown Prosecco.

—Luca Ferraro grape grower, winemaker

Bizarre weather continues to threaten 2014 harvest

weather forecast northern italy

The screenshot above was taken at about 8 p.m. local time in Asolo (source Google).

“I’ll be home tomorrow,” wrote grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro on his Facebook today, “and I’m really scared.”

Luca and his family have been on vacation away from Asolo and Caerano where they grow their grapes.

“I am very worried about the situation in the vineyards. I stayed connected all day today. [My colleague] Lucyano has done a fantastic job every day while I’ve been gone and he’s updated me in realtime during my days of ‘forced’ relaxation.”

“Tomorrow evening I’ll make a survey of the vineyards and then I will being the hard work that last until the harvest.”

“We need to make it…”

Prosecco diaries: June 2014

In June, again, we spent a lot of time working in the vineyards to fix up the plants and protect them from fungal infections.

Cutting the grass in our Monfumo vineyard is very complicated. To do it right, it takes a lot of effort, precision, and a little bit of experience. video mowing the grass

June 5 – we made our first pass through the vineyards to prune excess canes. By doing so, we reduce the humidity around the bunches.

flowers vineyard italy

June 10 – we made a survey of all the vines. The results follow. PERONOSPORA zero. BOTRYTIS has created a few problems in the lowest-lying vineyards. OIDIUM early symptoms on some of the grass worries me. I plan to treat the areas with powdered sulfur in upcoming days. DEFICIENCIES of magnesium and potassium in just one vine. Tomorrow I’ll treat it with micronutrients. I hope that I won’t have to make more than two treatments before harvest. Unfortunately, those two treatments will probably become four treatments because of the repeated and intense rainfall. 19 giugno – ecco come sono messi i grappoli di Glera. June 19 – this photo shows the condition of the Glera grapes.

prosecco grapes

Here’s a photo of a Bianchetta bunch.

bianchetta grapes

June 27 – during a nighttime treatment, the tractor decided to break down. We had to spend the entire next morning at the mechanic.

vineyard tractor

June 28 – dinner on the tractor.

sandwich winemaker recipe

We had to work late into the night to make up for lost time.

grape grower hard work

—Luca Ferraro, grape grower/winemaker

Prosecco diaries: May 2014

We will remember May 2014 for the very early flowering in the vineyards.

May 1 – This was the only day that we could spray the vineyards. And so no May Day celebration for us. may day italy

May 9 – I decided to mow the grass without using a tractor. Let me tell you: if it were possible, I would do this for all 12 of our hectares. Walking back and forth through the rows and soaking in the sights around you is like Zen meditation (click here for the video).

May 14 – The clusters began to flower, one of nature’s most beautiful spectacles.

flowering vineyards grape

May 22 – flowering began in the vineyards in Caerano. Roughly one hundred days will pass from this date until harvest.

flowering vines grapes

May 22 – we tried out mulching using cover crop grasses. The old grape grower’s machines become useful once again. I’ll be curious to see what will happen underneath that grass in a few weeks. I’m certain that the earth will remain softer and more humid (click here for the video).

May 25 – tasting of our wines at the Terraviva event.

terraviva degustazione

May 29 – we bottle the first lot of our Colfòndo.

bottling wine

By noon on the dot, we have 4,000 bottles and 500 magnums. Not bad for 2 small bottling machines and 5 persons on the job. We were beat.

And just to add some icing to the cake, we also bottled 20 Jerobhoams (3 liters), 2 Mathusalem (6 liters) and 2 Salmanazars (9 liters).

large format prosecco

May 30 – Look what we found when headed back to the vineyards to tie up the vines.

robin egg

May 31 – More discoveries in the vineyard (click here for the video).

—Luca Ferraro, grape grower and winemaker

Prosecco diaries: April 2014

April is always a tough month for us grape growers. Our work in the vineyard accumulates faster than we can get it done. And keeping up with the vines requires a good dose of grit, determination, a desire to get the job done, and a family that’s willing to deal with you not being at home. The accelerated growing cycle continues to worry me. 2014 is already ahead of 2013 and 2012. glera 1April 2 – the vines began to wake up in Monfumo as well.

April 3 – we began to give our muscles a good work out as we changed the wooden stakes that had begun to fall apart over time.

vinitaly col fondo

April 6 – the first day of Vinitaly. It was a good year for the fair, the best ever. mowing grass vineyardApril 11 – the first trimming of the grasses made us think about how it takes just a few hours to mow 2 hectares of vineyard with a tractor and at least 15 hours if you do it by hand.

hail vineyard prosecco 2014

April 26 – there was a light hailstorm in the Caerano hills. The next morning at dawn (Sunday, of course), we headed out to the vineyards to seal up the wounds caused by the hail.

Luca Ferraro grape grower