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Praying for the sun in Prosecco

I lettori italiani sono pregati di cliccare e far partire il video, narrato dal vignaiolo Luca Ferraro, direttamente.

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.

Situazione in vigna, 18 agosto

Click here for an English translation.

lunedì 18 agosto

Ieri complice una giornata passata in solitaria in sella alla mia amata Mountainbike, ho percorso i filari delle nostre vigne in lungo e in largo.

mountain bike veneto

Prima tappa: la vigna di Monfumo.

L’erba continua a crescere a causa del terreno umido. L’uva è gonfia come mai l’avevo vista, gonfia ma sana.

Prosecco:

prosecco grapes 2014 rain

Bianchetta:

bianchetta grapes veneto prosecco

Le foglie più fresche e giovani (femminelle) non sono totalmente bruciate come in altre vigne. Questo aiuterà ad avere una gradazione alcolica più alta e a portare a completa maturazione i grappoli.

valdobbiadene rain 2014

Non dovrei sbilanciarmi ma continuo ad aspettarmi grandi cose da questa vigna.

Seconda tappa: la vigna di Cornuda.

Uno sviluppo difforme è quello che caratterizza questa vigna. Piante meno vigorose hanno uva splendida. In quelle più vigorose che si trovano, guarda caso, dove ci sono più ristagni idrici, l’uva risulta più verde con acini più piccoli.

prosecco vineyards

Questa vigna è stata colpita da grandine circa un mese e mezzo fa. I grappoli della parete esposta ad ovest presentano qualche acino ammaccato. Se le giornate proseguiranno asciutte e fresche come queste ultime tutto si sistemerà per il meglio, gli acini rovinati si seccheranno e non daranno grossi problemi in vendemmia.

La grandine ha “bloccato” la crescita della vegetazione per circa 10 giorni e quindi la vendemmia sarà posticipata rispetto al normale.

Come vedete dalla foto, le femminelle sono state attaccate da peronospora, anche per questo posticiperemo la vendemmia in modo da avere completa maturazione e gradazioni zuccherine soddisfacenti.

Terza tappa: la vigna di Maser.

Anche qui tutto in ordine. Direi che la situazione è assolutamente la stessa della vigna di Monfumo.

Della vigna di Caerano non ve ne voglio parlare. Qui le cose sono più difficili. Vigna colpita duramente da mal dell’esca al punto che stiamo pensando di espiantarne una parte, uva ammaccata per ben 3 volte da grandine, femminelle bruciate dalla peronospora, uva pronta a scoppiare.

Come negli ultimi anni non utilizzeremo l’uva di questa vigna per produrre i nostri vini.

Conclusioni

Tirare le somme di un’annata così complicata è difficile. Siamo ancora in balia delle condizioni meteo, tre o quattro giorni di pioggia intensa potrebbero cambiare le carte in tavola in maniera repentina.

Giornate fresche e soleggiate potrebbero invece portare un poca di tranquillità negli animi di noi vignaioli.

Temperature quasi autunnali preserveranno aromi e acidità. Basti pensare che stamattina 18 agosto ci sono 16 gradi centigradi.

Attendiamo i primi campionamenti di uva per capire dati analitici dell’annata. Dovessi fidarmi del solo assaggio di qualche acino direi che per ora la vendemmia sembra abbastanza distante soprattutto a Monfumo ed in particolare per l’uva “rabbiosa” che ha un’acidità davvero fuori da tutti i canoni.

Vi aggiornerò con un altro post non appena verrà fatto qualche campionamento.

—Luca Ferraro
vignaiolo

Vineyard notes, August 18

Clicca qui per la versione italiana.

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

Croda watermill tragedy: a response to the media attack on grape growers by @VignaioliFIVI

Per la versione italiana, clicca qui.

The following is a translation of a statement issued last week by the Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers.

August 14, 2014

Ten days have passed since the tragic events at the Croda watermill in Refrontolo in Treviso province.

A lot has been said and written about it in the media. We can’t address what happened because we don’t know the details and the authorities and technicians haven’t completed their investigation.

As independent Italian grape growers, we believe that it’s important to share our thoughts here: among the many words that have been devoted to this episode, the term vignaiolo (grape grower) has been used inappropriately and the confusing manner in which it has been applied shows that the identity of the grape grower is still unclear in the minds of many.

In recent days, it was decided that grape growers were potentially responsible for the incident. The accusation was leveled in a chaotic attack on a group that has always existed and worked throughout Italy. The allegation has caused grave damage to those who work conscientiously and who support their families working as grape growers.

From the oldest to the youngest among us, including our board of directors, all of the members of FIVI work in a winery and each of us is completely responsible for the entire process, from growing grapes to selling the wine we produce.

Being a grape grower means having a direct relationship with the land and taking care of every single row of the vineyards where we live every day of our lives.

Our hands touch living material — not plastic. And so we know that every action causes a reaction.

We are acutely aware that respect for the vines and the land where they are planted is the key to our work and productivity. Without our vines, our wineries could not exist.

To live and make wine in any appellation means that one mustn’t limit her/himself to taking from the land. She/he must also do her/his best to give back. This is achieved by respecting, caring for, safeguarding, and supporting the microcosm where we live.

For this reason, every one of our bottles tells a different story and it pays the land back everything that it has taken from the land — with interest.

By definition, a grape grower cannot engage in self-injury.

We believe that the media’s recent attack on grape growers is baseless. It attempts to cast a bad light on an entire group of persons who, in fact, do not exploit the land. On the contrary, they care for the land where they live and every day they take care to prevent unforeseeable however potential disasters.

There are 800 of us independent grape growers and we put our blood, sweat, and tears into our work, every day and with pride.

Federazione Italiana Vignaioli Indipendenti

translation by our blogmaster

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

Earthworms hard at work

earthworm composting

“We sprinkled vegetable compost in the garden,” wrote grape grower and winemaker Luca Ferraro on the Bele Casel Facebook last week. “We hardly had to wait for the results. There is already a tide of earthworms that help to make the soil more fertile.”

Lumbricus terrestris is their Latin name. The common earthworm.

“For millions of years,” wrote Jen Fong and Paula Hewitt on the Cornell University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences website, “worms have been hard at work breaking down organic materials and returning nutrients to the soil.”

“Worm composting is using worms to recycle food scraps and other organic material into a valuable soil amendment called vermicompost, or worm compost. Worms eat food scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm’s body. Compost exits the worm through its tail end. This compost can then be used to grow plants. To understand why vermicompost is good for plants, remember that the worms are eating nutrient-rich fruit and vegetable scraps, and turning them into nutrient-rich compost.”

Check out Fong and Hewitt’s fascinating and highly informative page on worm composting here.

Prosecco diaries: July 2014 – luglio 2014

An English translation follows below.

Ricorderemo luglio come il mese più piovoso dell’anno, pare siano caduti 370 mm di pioggia.

Piogge continuative ad intervalli massimi di 48 ore. Terreni zuppi di acqua che non ci permettevano di entrare in vigna con nessun tipo di macchinario.

Abbiamo verificato settimanalmente la sanità di uve e foglie cercando di capire quanto quest’umidità continua potesse danneggiare il raccolto.

white grape variety italy northern

Camminando per la vecchia vigna di Monfumo poi abbiamo trovato delle sorprese, vecchi vitigni a noi sconosciuti.

biodiversity

E poi abbiamo ripiegato su altri tipi di lavori non meno importanti, la gestione di boschi e siepi, vero patrimonio di biodiversità

Me lo ricorderò a lungo questo periodo, lo voglio ricordare!

Essere inermi di fronte a queste situazione è uno stress-test formidabile. Immagino sia la stessa sensazione che si prova guardando un ladro che deruba la tua casa e rendersi conto che non si può far nulla per evitare il disastro.

Sostanzialmente ad oggi le vigne sono sane, le foglie giovani ovviamente ricche di peronospora e qualche grappolo colpito da grandine nelle settimane passate.

Potrei senza paura di essere smentito delineare tre gruppi di vigne:

- alta collina: vigne sane e prosperose, non essendoci ristagni idrici hanno sopportato al meglio questa situazione.
– media collina: foglie giovani e qualche acino colpiti da peronospora. I chicchi colpiti da grandine si sono seccati e con qualche giorno di sole cadranno a terra.
– pianura: qui i problemi si sono fatti sentire di più, gli acini colpiti da grandine hanno mal sopportato le piogge e sono stati colpiti da un leggero attacco di botrite.

Fortunatamente non vinificheremo quest’uva per concentrarci unicamente sul Prosecco di Collina.

—Luca Ferraro
vignaiolo

*****

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.

Walking through the old vineyard in Monfumo, we discovered some surprises: old grape varieties that we had never seen before.

We 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

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