Category: Prosecco diaries

Prosecco Diaries November: Using “live stakes” for erosion control

November is another month that is relatively quiet for us.

We spent a lot of time bottling and labeling our Asolo Prosecco knowing all the while that we would focus all of our attention at the end of the month in the vineyards.

It was a warm November. Very warm, in fact. The grasses were vibrant and green. The temperatures felt like spring and even in mid-November, we were working in t-shirts in the vineyards. No rainfall in the Asolo hills and no snow in the Dolomites.

November 2 – Our beloved Asolo Hills. And a visit to Antonio Canova’s Temple.

possagno_canova

November 3 – A FIVI grape grower who organizes tastings of bottle-fermented wines without using his own wines is someone whom we admire.

Our hats off to Giovanni Ederle.

degustazione rifermentati in bottiglia

November 5 – @la_bastide_de_gisele:

#prosecco #vin emblématique de l’Italie dans sa version originale #ColFondo c’est à dire obtenu grâce à une fermentation spontanée en bouteille, ce qui était la tradition dans la #vénétie avant l’arrivée des cuves closes. Quelques domaines proposent à nouveau ce beau vin fruit d’une belle tradition!”

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November 6 – Family is the most important thing.

famiglia bele casel

November 7 – We took care of some erosion in the vineyards using Biomat made from hemp, wooden stakes from our woods, and special plants called “live stakes” that go roughly 1.5 meters into the ground. Thanks to BioSoil for the helping hand.

biosoil frana

November 11 – Fog as the cover crop grows rapidly.

nebbia

November 14 – “Albacore crudo paired with our Bele Casel Prosecco Colfòndo.” Thanks to Sotto Restaurant!

colfondo los angeles

November 25 – We climb the willow trees to cut their branches. They will be used to trellis the vines.

salice potatura

November 28 – We say goodbye to the vineyards and head to the FIVI Wine Fair.

sole vigna

Prosecco Diaries October 2015: Getting ready to prune Monfumo

October is one of those months when we generally get the vineyards ready for the long hours we will spend pruning them. And so we usually spend more time in the cellar.

This year, we finished planting our cover crop grasses later than we usually do and so we spent a lot of time finishing up our work in the part of our Monfumo vineyard where we planted vines last summer. We set up the iron wires and the ties and we secured a small patch of vineyard affected by erosion.

Everything is going well in the cellar. The wines are slowly clarifying and the quality of the vintage is beginning to emerge.

It’s still to early to make any declarations but we are confident that the decision to harvest on the slightly early side was a winning one.

Octtober 1 – We finished seeding six hectares by hand.

sovescio semina manuale

October 3 – Our father finished tasting all the tanks in the cellar and he decided on the blend for the 2015.

ColFondo 2015

October 6 – The time for pruning is around the corner and so we get ready for it.

October 7 – Luca Martini, winner of the best sommelier in the world award in 2013, has included our ColFòndo in his book “99/100.”

Luca Martini ColFondo

October 13 – A little present for our father’s birthday.

October 19 – We finally return to our work in the vineyard. Anchors for the ties to be positioned on the wires.

ancore per fili di ferro

October 23 – The sun shines on our Monfumo vineyard.

morainic hills prosecco

October 24 – Presentation of the Slow Wine 2016 Guide and tasting in Montecatini Terme. This is the first year our Extra Brut has been awarded the “snail” prize for “Everyday Wine.” We couldn’t be more thrilled.

Slow Wine Montecatini

October 26 – The iron wires have been set up in the new part of our Monfumo vineyard.

fili di ferro

October 27 – Working on the hillsides means that you also have to deal with erosion that occasionally creates little problems.

frana Monfumo

Click here to see what we were up to in October 2014.

Prosecco Diaries September 2015: Accelerated Growing Cycle

We typically spend the month of September in the vineyards picking the grapes and in the cellar pressing them. This year, because of a very accelerated growing cycle, we spent just the first half the month carrying out the toughest work of the year in its entirety.

The 2015 vintage was very different than usual. The grapes ripened very quickly and so the traditional rhythm for harvest didn’t apply this year.

But we were able to devote more time than we expected to working the soil and planting seeds for our cover crops. This year we changed the mixture to give more “food” to our vineyards, which had been dieting for all these years and needed to be re-integrated.

This is the reason that we used manure in the most “lean” parts of the vineyard instead of vegetal compost.

Now the ball is in our father’s court. He’s the one who has to handle the winemaking process as accurately as possible. Fermentation and racking are a crucial part of our work. Even the slightest oversight can ruin the whole year’s work in the vineyard. The many hours you have to spend in the cellar and the fatigue can play ugly tricks. But our father’s experience reassures us thanks to the more than 40 vintages he has under his belt.

September 2: We pick the vineyard with the steepest slope, Monfumo, of course.
It’s also the vineyard with the oldest vines.

trattore in vigna

It’s not easy to carry 20 kg crates around all day, especially on a hot day like this one.
Here’s the video.

vendemmia a cassette

September 4: We continue to spend the entire night working the press.

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September 5: All of the wines are racked to eliminate the bigger solids.

cantina, travasi, fermentazioni

September 14: A late hailstorm fortunately arrived after we had finished picking.

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September 25: The last day of the harvest when we picked the Rabbiosa.

durella durello rabiosa rabbiosa

Prosecco Diaries: July 2015

We will remember July as one of the hottest and most dry months in recent years.

Temperatures reached up to 40° C. and even at night, there was little relief. The heatwave that arrived from Africa during July lasted through mid-August.

Our vineyards did alright thanks in part to the work that we had in the spring: We had made a selection of all the buds and we had reduced the quantity of bunches per vine.

The vineyard that suffered the most was Monfumo, where we were forced to transport water by truck to irrigate it.

irrigazione di soccorso vigneto

We slowed the pace of the vines by delaying the trimming of the canopy. This kept the sun from beating down directly on the bunches and lowering the levels of acidity in the fruit.

We also decided not to mow the grasses between the rows. This kept the ground covered and protected from the sun and thus it retained its moisture better.

We also stopped spraying the vineyards with copper and we only sprayed once with vaporized sulfur around July 20.

The Glera grapes were healthy and beautiful. The vintage didn’t request much effort in terms of spraying and we managed to get by using only half the amount of copper allowed in organic grape growing.

Here is our diary entry for July 2014: July 2014

Prosecco harvest 2015 comes to an end in Asolo

I will never forget last Thursday, the day I visited the Bele Casel winery and harvest had just begun.

When I arrived around 11 a.m., the first grapes were already coming in.

Danilo and Luca were pumped up with adrenalin. When Danilo approached me to greet me, he reached out a hand soaking wet with grape must and dripping seeds and skins.

“I’m very, very happy with this vintage,” he said ecstatically. “Great sugar levels, great acidity. This is going to be a fantastic vintage for us.”

Later, Luca confirmed that despite the hot temperatures of July and August and a harvest that came a few weeks early, they are going to have a bumper crop of great fruit this year.

I snapped that photo of a Glera bunch in their Monfumo vineyard. It was one of the last parcels to be harvested because it’s their highest-lying growing site.

Walking through the vines, you could feel the spot teeming with life. What an incredible feeling! I’ll never forget it.

Bele Casel’s harvest began on Thursday, August 27 and it ended yesterday, Tuesday, September 1 (for the record).

We’ll post vinification notes as soon as we can.

Op Ed: Prosecco’s Waterloo, a financial model at risk

The following article appeared in Italian yesterday on the SlowFood blog. Translation by Bele Casel.

Prosecco’s Waterloo: A financial model at risk

Until a few years ago, 95 percent of Prosecco was produced in Treviso province. There were two DOCs: Montello e Colli Asolani (today known as Asolo DOCG) and Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. And there was also an IGT.

Fruit grown in the DOCs was well paid and growers were limited to a maximum yield of 12 (metric) tons per hectare. Growers in the IGT were limited to 25 tons per hectare and the prices for their grapes were lower.

Over time, the margin in pricing has continued to shrink and this year, something is happening that I have long suspected to be unavoidable.

The production area doesn’t matter to the global market. And buyers across the world continue to base their purchases on the price and the name that appears on the label. In a recent article by Italian wine writer Angelo Peretti, he illustrates how difficult it is for the average consumer outside of Italy to perceive the difference in quality between the top and middle-of-the-road Prosecco.

No one is in a hurry to distinguish between wines made from grapes grown on cool ventilated hillsides where all work is carried out by hand and grapes grown on the valley floor where it is easy to mechanize labor thanks to level landscape and where growers obtain a product much different from those in the DOCG. The majority of end consumers doesn’t pay attention to the growing zone and the quality of the wine is rarely even discussed.

All of these factors will have a significant impact on the prices of grapes in the 2015 harvest, which will begin this week. In some cases, at least according to news that I receive daily, the price of valley floor Glera (the primary grape used in Prosecco) has already surpassed that of hillside Glera. This has resulted in wholly legal speculation that feeds the demoralization of growers who spend up to four to five times as many hours working in the vineyards than those who use machines to tend their vines.

Many attribute some of the responsibility for this to the Consortium of Prosecco DOC growers. Thanks to its high revenues, it has the luxury of begin able to afford highly targeted and highly effective marketing. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that profit is what drives the market but I think the blame for this goes beyond this fact.

Every single one of us (DOCG producers) needs to ask her/himself the following questions:

How many grape growers think solely of quick profit without considering the long term?

How many producers sell of their wines without taking stock of the back-breaking work that it takes to work hillside vineyards?

When we consider the differences between DOC and DOCG wines, do we really take into account the characteristics of the different appellations or do we concentrate exclusively on the word “Prosecco”?

An appellation cannot grow without adequately fostering viticulture and without paying proper attention its potential for quality.

Buyers need to be conscious of their fundamental role with respect to sellers and to the market. And they need pay a fair price and avoid speculation.

Here are the estimated prices for grapes for the current vintage:

Prosecco DOC: 18 tons per hectare, 70-80 cents per kilo; profit for grape growers who don’t bottle €14,400 per hectare.

DOCG Asolo: 135 tons per hectare, €1.05-1.10 per kilo; profit for grape growers who don’t bottle €14,850 per hectare.

DOCG Conegliano Valdobbiadene: 135 tons per hectare, €1.30 per kilo; profit for grape growers who don’t bottle €17,550 per hectare.

It’s important to remember that these are not the actual prices (as of today August, 25, 2015).

The earliest contracts that have been signed are for €1 for the DOC and €1.15 for the DOCG Asolo. Last year’s price for Conegliano Valdobbiadene was €1.30.

Based on these prices, a valley floor grower would early €18,000 per hectare, €3,000 more than a hillside grower in Asolo.

Luca Ferraro

Winemaker and grape grower Luca: “We are in the hands of our Lord.”

“We have entered in the period,” wrote winemaker and grape grower Luca on his Facebook yesterday, “that will determine the quality of the vintage. This is a crucial month for all of us. And also for you, who will taste our wines someday. We did everything we could to get to this moment with healthy grapes (in every sense of the world) and we made it. Now it’s in the hands of our Lord.”

Prosecco Diaries: June 2015

June was a month that found us working hard as we planted new vines in our Monfumo vineyard. It was back-breaking work and the weather was hot and muggy. And the job was interrupted by the rain, which kept us from working for a few days and which made the planting of grafted cuttings even more challenging.

Luckily for us, in the days that followed the planting, there was abundant rain and so the little plants quickly took root.

The situation in the vineyards continues to look good. There’s no peronospora spotting on the vines, the fruit set is healthy, and you can see the bunches developing on the vines.

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Prosecco Diaries: May 2015

May was a month rich with events and rewards. Everything is moving forward smoothly in the vineyards.

It’s been a relatively easy month in terms of the health of the vines. The weather is ideal with the right amount of rain. Moderate temperatures have made for healthy vegetative development without creating problems of rot.

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