Preparing to Pick in Italy

    If you’ve ever been to Italy, you know that it could very well be the capital of the “Slow Food” movement — the effort that encourages us to slow down and savor the food, the wine and the people in our lives.

      While it’s certainly within our control to make such an effort, Mother Nature waits for no one. And so it is that the Italian Wine Union and Italy’s Institute of Services for the Food and Agriculture Market are anticipating an early winegrape harvest this year — by as much as three or four weeks.

      Warm weather in March and April prompted early germination in vineyards across the country. As temperatures remained high, flowering on the vines occurred about 20 days earlier than usual. And the “early”

process has continued unabated, which means varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio could be coming in by the end of next week.

      Varieties such as Merlot and Trebbiano, which typically are harvested in September, could see August picking dates as well. And later-maturing varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo, typically picked in mid-October, likely will be brought in during September.

      Even with the early harvest, quality is expected to be good because — unless unexpected rainstorms hit — the maturing grapes will have had their normal number of days in the sun. It’s just that their maturation process began earlier than usual.

      By the way, I just got a preview of the lineup of wines that has been procured for the next shipment of The World of Wines Wine Club — a shipment focused on the wines of Italy — and it’s stellar. There’s a Pinot Grigio and a Sangiovese, of course, but TWOW members also can look forward to experiencing some varieties they’ve probably never heard of before. Should be fun… not to mention yummy.

      In other harvest news, I checked with some growers in Sonoma and Napa counties, and they’re expecting to pick grapes earmarked for sparkling wines — including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier — as early as next week. Sparkling winemakers prefer a lesser degree of ripeness than makers of still wines.

      Growing conditions can vary greatly across the North Coast, so some of the grapes for sparkling wines may not be picked until early October in some areas. But in the warmer climes, the countdown has begun.

      Speaking of counting down… you’ll want to visit every day this week, as we’ll be featuring two stories that deal with the environment, we’ll be taking you to Austria to meet a winemaker who also makes wonderful cheese and chocolate, we’ll introduce you to some folks who are turning grape harvest leftovers into wonderful cooking oils… and more.

     See you tomorrow!

Posted in Editor's Journal
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