Category: Prosecco diaries

Warm weather causes concern

bud break 2014 vintage italy

Across Italy, there is concern among grape growers and winemakers because of the unseasonal warm weather.

While there have been rain and some snow, temperatures have not fallen to their average levels for February.

And in some cases, the vines are already starting to show some signs of activity, like this tiny bud.

Bele Casel grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro took this photo earlier this week.

And as you can see, it’s just a tiny bud when compared with the size of his hand.

If cold weather doesn’t arrive soon, there could be issues with the vegetative cycle of the vines.

Luca posted this photo on the Bele Casel Facebook on Monday, when he took it.

As always, the Bele Casel social media are intended as a platform to share the true story — however challenging — of what goes into the Ferraro family’s wines.

Luca’s notes from December in the vineyards

December is the month when we traditionally begin pruning.

snake skin

December 10 – We found a snake’s skin in the vineyards.

green manure

December 12 – The cover crop continues to grow.

new vineyard

December 17 – A date that I will remember for a very long time. After visiting this vineyard (above), which was up for sale, we decided to do something crazy (given the economic times): we took out a second mortgage so that we could buy it. It’s one hectare in size and is not suitable for tractors. We’ll be spending a lot of time in this vineyard over the next few years.

freezing temperatures

December 19 – Temperatures have dropped below freezing but we continue to prune like there’s no tomorrow.

sunrise prosecco

December 20 – Tomorrow always comes sometimes it amazes you with its beauty.

children vineyard

December 22 – Our children get a taste of the work that awaits them in a few years.

@Bele_Casel: “The Prosecco vintage of the MILLENNIUM!” (NOT… well maybe)

prosecco grape bunch

The French will continue to make fun of us and Italian journalists will continue to write the same thing that they’ve been writing at the end of ten summers now: “It’s going to be the vintage of the century, with stellar quality and zero problems.”

Why don’t we start at the beginning…

The vintage started with rainfall. We had to battle like warriors to save the grapes from rot during May and June.

During the second half of the vintage, we had to deal with hydric stress. We continued to fight in order to stop losing part of the grapes in July.

But I’d like to focus on the period that really decides the fate of the vintage: the period that stretches from véraison (when the skins begin to change color; the onset of ripening) to the time when we pick.

Until now, I can very serenely say that it has been a spectacular period.

Nights are cool and days are warm and dry. The temperature variation aids us considerably in maintaining the aromas of the wines.

There are no more problems of hydric stress after the recent rains.

The grapes are healthy. The skins are thick and crunchy.

We’ll probably begin picking mid-September and we hope to have moderate temperatures during harvest.

So, for now, we expect to have an excellent vintage. But I’ll wait until November, when all the wine has finished fermenting, before I’ll tell you that it’s the vintage of the century.

—Luca Ferraro
grape grower and winemaker

@Bele_Casel: “After excessive spring rains, problems with hydric stress in July”

A note from grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro:

After entire weeks of rain, July has left us with problems of hydric stress.

Sweltering days, warm nights, and a lack of rain have forced us to irrigate our hill-side vineyards for the first time ever.

I never thought it would come to this after a spring with exaggerated levels of rainfall.

It’s probably due to soils that are excessively compact due to frequent use of tractors (and sprayers) on wet soils.

The work that we’ve been doing on the soils has not been sufficient. But we will have to continue down this road in order to increase the fertility of the soil in our Prosecco vineyards and to make sure that the water remains in the ground for a longer period.

glera grape bunch

July 1: a Glera grape bunch.

vineyard treatments prosecco

July 9: treatments applied during the cool hours of the early morning in order to avoid warming of the leaves and grape bunches.

asolo prosecco vineyards

Some of our vineyards in Cornuda.

italy vineyard disease fungal

July 16: While working in the vineyards, we found a small Glera bunch that had been attacked by oidium (powdery mildew). The next day, we went back to the vineyard with a duster and applied micronized sulfur to stop potential outbreaks.

sulfur treatment vineyard

July 17: We head out to the vineyards at dawn to spray sulfur without damaging the vines.

Luca’s notes from the cold month of January

binding canes in the vineyard

The cold month of January was spent pruning our vines in Caerano and going back and forth with our designer on Skype, often all day long, discussing our packaging, labels, and capsules for the wines.

We’ve been managing a vineyard in Caerano for two years now. It’s an old-school growing site and that why we decided not to use nylon binding. Instead we used reeds (called strópe in our dialect) that we took from old plants left to us by my grandfather, who used them to bind the canes.

luca ferraro

Call it nostalgia if you like… the reeds make me think of the time when I used to work in the vineyards with my father and my grandfather. I’d follow them between the vines with the bunch of reeds they had prepared especially for me. I’d get mad because no matter how hard I tried, I could never manage to bind those stupid little branches!

vineyard bindings italy

In that same vineyard, you still find ancient trellising techniques. In our dialect, the iron wires are called tarnéi.

wintertime coffee italy

On the coldest mornings, we had to go back to the house to warm up our hands and our spirits. Sometimes a hot coffee can give a boost to your morale and to your tired muscles.

snowfall veneto january

Not even the snow could stop us!

@Bele_Casel 2012 harvest notes posted by @DavidatBBR

david berry greenDavid Berry Green (left), wine buyer for the prestigious (and historic) wine merchant Berry Brothers & Rudd (London), is widely considered a tastemaker in his field.

He’s also a super cool dude who happens to love groovy wine.

Berry Brothers & Rudd is Bele Casel’s importer in England.

Today, on David’s blog, he posted an “in their own words” 2012 harvest notes, a gathering of observations by winemakers in his Italian portfolio, including Bele Casel winemaker Luca Ferraro’s entry below. (See also David’s winery write-up, which follows.)

Click here for the entire report.

Luca Ferraro, Bele Casel, Caerano San Marco, Veneto

A warm winter brought budding forward by 10/12 days vs. 2011. Then Easter brought 10 cool days that returned the vegetative cyle to its normal pattern. June brought peronospera/downy mildew reducing the crop by 5-10%; a further 2-3% by hail in July. A very hot and dry August threatened but fortunately our soil supported the vine. Harvest started on August 28 and ten days later we picked the fruit from the hill of Maser (for Colfondo and Millesimato). Little fruit this year, healthy and very concentrated, hence we should expect a more structured and aromatic wine than in 2011.

Here’s David’s write-up on Bele Casel:

Bele Casel is an artisan Prosecco producer who Berrys are proud to have teamed up with. Based at Caerano san Marco, near Treviso, the small 10 hectare (120k bottles/anno) family estate lies in a fiercely protected subzone of calcareous clay hills called Asolo; the key limestone element giving wines a fragrant white peach character.

The Ferraro family have been at it since 1977, first bottling the aforementioned frizzante ‘Colfondo’ method but then when the market became too tough, accepting that they too had to make a spumante. Fast forward a generation and father Danilo (left in the photo), who kick started the family’s move to bottling, was joined in 1998 by son Luca (the tall one!), fresh out of wine school. Luca’s arrival ushered in a new cantina/winery, completed in 2003 that also allows them to make spumante for other small growers, along with the planting of a new vineyard, ‘Maser’; the estate being organic in all but certificate.

Bele Casel makes five wines: the region’s trademark wine style “Extra Dry” (16 grams of residual sugar), a more considered ‘Extra Dry Millesimato’ (23 grams), a crisp ‘Brut’ (10 grams), the frizzante ‘Colfondo’ and a fine Merlot!  It’s a measure of the family’s competence and professionalism that all the wines without exception are of a high quality; each one distinct and great to drink.

That was clearly the case from the off as I tasted their still wines from the 2010 vintage; still in tank before destiny would decide whether they became spumante with the addition of sugar, or with grape must if they were bottled for frizzante (colfondo). I was struck by the bright purity of fruit, by the clear differences between their provenance and by the wines’ stunning length and sense of harmony.

While I’m sure you would lap up all the wines, as I did, Berrys have decided to get the ball rolling by buying the ‘Extra Dry’ and ‘Extra Dry Millesimato 2010’; the Extra Dry will light up any room; the Millesimato more earnest and measured, for a special occasion.

—David Berry Green, BBR Buyer

Harvest of prosecco: third day

Tonight I will be very short on writing the journey because tiredness is inexorably coming and we start ending with our work later than we used to. One thing makes me very happy and proud, must analysis is excellent, I cant describe my satisfaction when I read that the juice extract, the value that describe the wine structure, was at 24g/lt, I belive I never seen Prosecco’s must with these kind of value.

Fermentation are going on regularly and my father is always  looking after them.

Tomorrow will be an harder day, on saturday relatives and friends come to help us and it will be not easy to handle all of them.

I wish you a good night

Luca

Harvest of prosecco – first day

Today working hours very early in the morning, set up last things to do and let’s start with the 2009’s grapeharvest! Starting time for all the helping workers around 08:00.

During the first four hours the total harvest has been around 39 quintals, followed by a delicious lunch time, pasta with home made tomato sauce, meat and home-grown vegetables.

In the next four hours harvest has been of 43 quintals.

For my father and I it is not over yet! We have still two hours ahead for the wine press to finish its cycle, half an hour to empty and wash up the press and once everything is done everybody goes to sleep because tomorrow will be another hard day!

Good night

Luca

p.s. Photos and videos coming soon…

Harvest of prosecco: Second day

After a night thunderstorm, the second day grape’s harvest can begin. The unsettled weather during the morning allowed the must temperature to remain low and preserve it better.

This morning we ended up on the first part of vineyard with about one ectar of Prosecco. We almost reach the grapes quantity grant by the new d.o.c.g. regulation ( 120 quintals/ectar).

While we were working outside in a natural environment and breathing fresh air, my father was busy in the winery following technical procedures by checking fermentation, decanting and graft selected yeasts.

Thanks to the new press bought for this harvest and of course for all the others will come in the future, wine is kept in a inert room.

Tomorrow we’ll repeat…same place, same time, same people!

Good nigth all!