Well, that’s it - after tonight, no more dinners to cook (well, for the Agriturismo at least) until the start of next years season in March! The great thing about this job is every year there are a number of points where you have that old school end-of-year feeling (even if not looking forward to 6 weeks of summer holidays at the beach as when young!). There really is a day when the Agriturismo winds-down,the last guests for the year leave & the house reverts to our home. The harvest & wine-making really do have an end when the wine is safely tucked-away in the cellar & winter’s chill has descended upon the vines. And at the end of winter the time comes to leave all that & revert to the Agriturismo, the first guests arrive & so the cycle goes on!
Last evening a very violent, fast-moving thunderstorm passed over us. Its fury was disconcerting & the amazing thing was that a beautiful, sunny & clear morning revealed almost no damage!
Today, Monday 17 September, was the first day since March when we have found ourselves at La Faula without any guests.
We passed from running the Agriturismo full tilt to harvesting the grapes with nary a second's break. It seemed, at the time, that it would all be rather impossible to pull-off: due to the warm winter past & the very hot June & July, the grapes' maturity was advanced by about a month but the night's thunder-storms of August & consequent humidity gave us concern about the risk of the grapes rotting away on the vine.
The Agriturismo was fully engaged until 15 September but on 10 September, with the forebearance of the guests, we began the harvest of the white grapes. The early harvest & harvester’s family difficulties left us short of grape pickers at this time & it took some fortitude to keep pushing on.
We began by harvesting Sauvignon blanc, the grapes of which have a fine skin & so are prone to rot. It was necessary, therefore, that the harvesters clean the bunches of grapes, where there was rot, to remove the bad grapes. This was unbelievably time-consuming & was pretty tough on those few pickers as it seemed that the lines of grapes were endless & that closure would never be reached. After a week, however, the sauvignon was all in the canteen & the quality of the grapes left was superb. They were extremely rich in sugar & taste. I think, though, that we probably lost around 35% of the harvest.
Fortunately, the weather held: hot, sunny days with warm drying afternoon breezes.
We moved on to harvesting the tocai - some of the grapes had the 'noble rot', a kind of fungus that absorbs moisture from the individual grapes leaving the remaining juice, with its sugars & aromas, rich & concentrated.
Finally, we harvested the Pinot Bianco & Chardonnay, finishing the later today. These last grapes were perfect & could not be bettered.
All the wines are now bubbling away in the canteen / cellar & seem to be very good.
Tomorrow, the rain is due - at least it will allow us to sleep-in without a bad conscience!!!