When is the best time to visit Italian wineries?
Italy’s history with wine is very old and spread in the second millennium before Christ, when the vine plantations started. Italy has become famous worldwide for its award winning wines and is very popular with wine lovers. But readers asked me: when is the best time to visit Italian wineries? Today I will answer my readers with great satisfaction, because I like this subject very much! Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”
All wine production begins with the beginning of autumn in the country. During this period it is very common for wineries, hotels and restaurants to make special programs so that their guests and visitors can take full advantage of this very special moment! But there is an ideal time to participate in the “raccolta” (harvest) of the grape, which is the highlight for wine producers and goes on several lists of “things to do before you die”. Furthermore, it is during the same period that they collect olives to make fantastic Italian olive oils! Find out here How to bring wines from Italy?
The grapes that have priority at harvest time are the most delicate, such as Pinot and Chardonnay. Then Aglianico, Montepulciano, Nerello, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and the other grapes are collected. One thing is guaranteed: after participating in the harvest, you will never drink wine again without remembering this unique experience! Find out here Where to buy wines in Rome, Florence and Milan?
1) When is the best time to visit Italian wineries? GET TO KNOW THE PRODUCTIVE CYCLE
In the vines there is the annual cycle that manifests itself with different phases, the result of the genetic characteristics of the different types of grapes that interact both with environmental conditions and with cultivation practices and, on the one hand, with the vegetative activity of the plant and, another, with reproductive activity, which is when there is the formation of fruits and seeds. We can divide the annual cycle of the vine into two sub-cycles: the vegetative sub-cycle and the reproductive sub-cycle. Find out here What are the types of Italian wines?
The vegetative sub-cycle consists of the following phases:
- vegetative growth from March to April (budding) until the beginning of August, when the growth of the buds starts another phase;
- lignification period (when the branches of the bunches become species of small dry branches) from the top of the vine, which begins in August and ends between November and December; it is when the grape itself indicates that it is time to collect it. (depending on its type).
- winter rest period, which runs from December to April.
At that moment, two important characteristics appear for the vine:
- The greater development of the upper part of the bunches, compared to that found in the middle or basal position;
- Apical dominance: the apical buds, during their development, inhibit the growth of the lateral buds, producing hormones (auxins).
The reproductive sub-cycle occurs simultaneously with the vegetative sub-cycle, in the wet sprout it is characterized by two parallel phenomena:
- the development of shoots born from hibernating buds, differentiated in the previous year, the flowering and maturation of the berries;
- formation and differentiation of hibernating buds for the following year, which occurs from May until the growth of the leaves of the bud of the year.
We can divide it, for an easier description, in the following phases:
- differentiation of hibernating buds;
- flowering and fruiting (late May – early June);
- foliage growth (mid-June to August);
- ripening and harvesting of the grapes (August – September).
Below is the image of the complete diagram of the grape cycle:
As we can see, the grape harvest takes place between October and December (can be anticipated), but the wineries are open all year round for tasting and selling their products to the public.
2) When is the best time to visit Italian wineries? GET TO KNOW THE HARVESTING PROCESS
How is the Harvest process? It all starts with analyzing the grapes. Experts monitor the vineyards throughout the year to monitor their progress and / or any problems. After the analysis and some tests, a sommelier together with an agronomist gives the O.K. to start the grape harvest. That done, some wineries open their doors to the public so that they can participate effectively in this moment, which can last up to three weeks. They teach how to cut the vine’s clusters (it is necessary to be very careful not to pick grapes that are not yet ripe, wilted or moldy ‘inside’), how to accommodate the grapes in the baskets and which ones not to collect; after that, to the delight of tourists, the first kilos of grapes are “worked” as they used to be: trampled in a vat.
Of course, nowadays most wine producers do this process mechanically, but to keep the old tradition alive they provide this spectacle to their visitors. The other grapes are taken to a refrigerated environment, because due to the heat they can lose quality, and there the whole production process starts, such as pressing and filtration. Of the grape, nothing is lost! The grape skins are used to make the famous “Grappa”, a kind of fermented drip that is very strong and tasty. Discover the Tuscan Wine Route here!
3) When is the best time to visit Italian wineries? PARTICIPATING IN THE HARVEST
Where to go to participate in the harvest? There are some very traditional wineries and hotels that receive visitors during this period. I reinforce: always confirm the event, to make sure that the climatic conditions will not affect the grape harvest.
Below we will indicate a winery by region, but there are several open canteens. Remember that it is necessary to ask about the period that the harvest will take place to participate in the “vendemmia” (harvest) O.K.?!
By clicking on the links it is possible to see the list of ALL the canteens opened during the “vendemmia” (harvest) in Italy 😉
- Calabria: La Pizzuta Del Principe
- Campania: Tenuta Pepe
- Emilia Romagna: Tenuta Santa Cecilia
- Lazio: Cantina Del Tufaio
- Lombardy: Nera Vini
- Marche: Garofoli Vini
- Piedmont: Mazzetti
- Puglia: Cantine Le Grotte
- Sardegna: Su’Entu
- Tuscany: Donatella Cinelli Colombini
- Umbria: Lungarotti
- Veneto: Salvan
- The regions of Basilicata, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Molise, Sicily, Trentino Alto Adige and Valle D’Aosta have not disclosed which participating establishments.
The Greeks called Italy Enotria, which means “Land of Wine”. This is because the country’s climate and geography have always been very suitable for growing the most diverse types of grapes. Italy is one of the few countries in the world where wine is produced in ALL regions! Did you know that Bacco, the god of wine, is always revered before having a glass of wine? So it is very common for Italians to toast and say “per Bacco” (for Bacco), asking for protection, harmony and prosperity!
Very important to know: the world climate has changed a lot in the last decade and it is one of the factors that favor, or not, the grape plantation! For this reason, it is common for some producers to anticipate the “harvest” to avoid losses, both by heat and by excessive rain. Therefore, before visiting wineries, check with the chosen location to find out when the harvest will be and if it will be possible to accompany it. Check out our Section on Climate in Italy!
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When is the best time to visit Italian wineries? If you can, take part in this very unique moment! It is a unique experience and, after the grape harvest, fantastic lunches are usually offered to visitors! You will not regret it!
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