Everything You Need to Know about The Fall Italian Wine Harvest

Autumn brings with it a season of harvest, and wine is no exception. As The Candoni Family begins the hard work of grape gathering, we thought we’d share with you our experience of this annual event. Are you ready to catch a glimpse of the Italian Wine Harvest?
 

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La Vendemmia
Italy’s annual wine harvest season, known as La Vendemmia among residents, typically begins around late August and can continue through October. How the previous seasons fair can greatly affect harvest times, because the wine grapes aren’t picked until they are perfectly ripe.

This year, our harvests have started pretty late, due to Summer clinging tightly to our vineyards. However, because during Spring we had some nice rain and the Summer was long and warm, the conditions have been perfect for excellent wine grapes. This year’s harvest will prove to be more fruitful and refreshing than ever!

We are expecting some very high quality whites and reds from our vineyards this year.
The mild, dry and sunny climate, with wide temperature ranges between day and night, made it possible to slightly delay the harvest (although it is more normal this way … last year it was very early) keeping the grapes healthy while waiting for the perfect ripeness. The finished bottles of this harvest will be of great quality, with perfect balance between a sugary and tasteful blend of acidity and freshness.
 
The Many Harvests of Italy
If you’ve ever visited Italy, you will have noticed that we have wine vineyards in abundance. Because our country has differing climates per region, there is no definite date that encompasses all of Italy for a wine harvest to occur. The ripeness of the wine grapes will determine when the harvest begins. At Candoni, we have four major regions where we develop our delectable wines: Veneto, Sicily, Piedmont, and Tuscany.
 

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Veneto
This region of Italy is home to Candoni, Polvaro Tenuta and Carletto wines. For more than a century, our Pinot Grigio has been harvested and processed in Veneto. The wine grape juice is fermented for three weeks and then it is bottled and filtered in sterilized conditions in order to preserve the fruit’s taste. A glass of Pinot Grigio is dry, fresh, and has a long finish.

The world-renowned Prosecco is produced mainly in the Veneto area, where the tradition and culture of this wonderful sparkling wine is found. The charming cities of Veneto are the perfect backdrop for enjoying a glass of Prosecco. Find a seat by the water with your favorite, creamy pasta dish as you take in the beautiful architecture around you. This elegant, sparkling wine will compliment your dinner and dessert with its hint of sweetness.

The Estate vineyards in this region have a beautiful view of the Venetian countryside, offering a peaceful reprieve from the nearby city life of northeast Venice. During the second week of September this year, the harvest started for all our White grapes.
 
Sicily
Our Organic Buongiorno (Italian way to say “Have a good day!”) is harvested and bottled in Italy’s southernmost region. This refreshing red blend is made from organically grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes and is 100% free of synthetic pesticides, as the cultivating process abides by our Organic Agriculture method.

Because of Sicily’s Mediterranean climate, our Organic Buongiorno accomplishes a rich red blend with a round character of excellent quality and taste. The consistent forecast for the region provides ideal circumstances for these perfect wine grapes to be harvested each year in late August. Sicilian wines are famous for their distinctive strong taste due to the exceptional terroir and weather. The first grape bunch that began the harvest season this year were picked in our Sicilian vineyards.
 
Piedmont – Lombardy
This hilly region of Italy is where we grow and harvest our Moscato and Pinot Noir. Piedmont rests at the foot of the Alps, which protect the vineyards from cold climates while also trapping heat in the valley. The rocky soil of the crop absorbs this heat during the day and provides warmth to the growing vines at night. All of these conditions result in a fruit with fully-developed flavors.

Although the climate is ideal for these wine grapes, if you can believe it, there is difficult terrain that means that some grapes must be hand-picked when harvest time arrives in mid-September. The breathtaking sights keep our spirits high while our fellow pickers offer light-hearted companionship that makes the harvest run swiftly and smoothly.
 
Tuscany
This is the most popular region of Italy, drawing tourists in with its Renaissance art and architecture, as well as breathtaking landscapes whose picture cannot be captured with words. This sought-after vacation spot is where the Chianti district resides. The region’s rich soil and sunny weather provides the perfect climate for wine grapes to thrive.

Our prized Candoni Chianti sees its harvest season taking place between August and mid-October, depending on the year’s frosts. Only the highest-quality grapes are selected during the harvest, creating a wine that has a striking ruby-red, purple color and whose soft, earthy finish pairs well with hearty foods like red meats and cheeses.
 

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The 2019 harvest is for sure an amazing harvest for the Chianti!
 
How to harvest wine grapes
When we carry out the harvests of our vineyards, there are two ways to go about picking the ripe wine grapes- by hand, or by machine. Typically, the terrain of the region and the number of workers will determine which harvesting method is chosen. Let us give you a glimpse of what each method entails.
 
Hand Harvesting
When tackling a vineyard by hand, you really only need two things: a pair of secateurs and a lot of small baskets. Before starting the harvest, the baskets are evenly spread out throughout the rows of fruit and are placed directly beneath the vines. The secateurs are then used to cut wine grape bunches from the vine, and the fruit is placed into the basket waiting below.

When the basket is full, it is carried to either a larger container that is placed at the end of each row of the vineyard, or it will be gently packed away onto a large truck that will transport the harvest to the winery for processing.
 
Mechanical Harvesting
A mechanical harvesting machine will move through the rows of the vineyard, encompassing the vines and gently vibrating them so that the wine grapes fall onto the machine’s conveyer belt. The fruit will travel across the belt until it lands in adjacent storage bins that are rolled alongside the harvester as it makes its way through the vineyard.

As technology has advanced, the quality and efficiency of mechanical harvesters has greatly improved. The modern machines can work faster and more efficiently than hand-pickers.

At Candoni De Zan vineyards we pride ourselves in having only the best, state of the art technology that pairs well with tradition to make the perfect combination.
 
What is the best time of day to harvest wine?
Some wineries may say that the best time to pick the wine grapes is at night, but this simply is not true. At Candoni, we let our vineyards decide when it is time to harvest. We find that this method produces the best quality of wine.

We wait until our grapes are at their perfect ripeness and sweetness. Our team of Agronomist test the grapes several times a day to see at what level the sugar is to determine the perfect moment to pick the fruit. When that moment comes, we will rise early the next morning and start picking. We will continue working throughout the day and will keep on until the harvest is complete. We only stop for short breaks, and sometimes end up staying in the vineyard until midnight!

The hard work definitely pays off. Because we wait to harvest the wine grapes until they’re perfectly ripe, our wines benefit greatly with more pronounced flavors.
 
How long does the Italian Wine Harvest last?
Because of the differing climates in the various regions of Italy, our wine harvest season will run from late August to mid-October. Wine enthusiasts from around the world prefer to visit our busy vineyards during this time, as they can see where some of their favorite bottles begin. Tourists can enjoy mild-tempered days and refreshingly cool evenings as they explore the various regions of Italy during the harvest season.
 
Fun Fact! The Harvest Moon and the Wine Moon are one in the same.
Before electricity was invented, farmers relied on the extra light provided by the large harvest moon to illuminate their work at night. Today, the harvest moon is associated with events that occur around it like the autumn equinox and Halloween. But did you know that it also signals when wine grapes are at their ripest? It’s true! You will often hear winemakers referring to the harvest moon as the Wine Moon.
 
How the Candoni Family Celebrates La Vendemmia
For the Candoni De Zan Family, the time of harvest is truly a magical one. So much hard work and passion go towards harvesting the best grapes that the vineyards can produce. Even though the harvest culminates in a brief few months, the reality of the matter is that this is a yearlong process.

Once the harvest has finally ended, and before a new cycle begins, it is very important to give thanks to the land that has given us such wonderful fruits, and to the people that have worked so hard throughout the year. This is carried out with the Candoni Family hosting a special party at the end of harvest as an annual tradition.

All that have worked towards the harvest, including family and friends, are welcome to join in on this special celebration. Joy is the life is the motif of this day. Music, good food, games and wine are all in abundance. It is the perfect end to a fruitful harvest. We are glad to be able to celebrate our hard work in this way each year.

As we wrap up the harvest this year and prepare for the closing celebration of La Vendemmia, we can already see that this will be a fantastic year for our white and red wines. Our vineyards across Italy have been able to produce an abundance of perfect fruits thanks to the ideal weather conditions of this year.
 
We can’t wait for the special party with our family, friends, and fellow harvesters. It has been a pleasure working with everyone to complete the 2019 harvest!
 
“Cheers!”
– Barbara and Caterina
 

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