People who don’t work or live in the countryside might think that looking after a vineyard is seasonal work, concentrated mostly in the autumn during the harvest period.
There are indeed periods during the year that are more or less intense and busier than others, but we never stop working!
The beginning of the new year is quite calm, even if it’s time to begin pruning. In January and February the old shoots are cut from the vines and the new spur is pruned for the coming year.
The new fruiting cane, the one on which the new grape clusters will grow, is left alone for the moment. It is manually bent towards March.
In this way, with warmer temperatures, there is less danger of breaking the cane. Maintenance of the vine rows is usually carried out in April, and includes straightening out or replacing stakes and also replacing young vines that have failed to thrive.
In May, the work of removing fruitless shoots begins. In Piedmontese dialect this is called ‘scarzolatura’. This clears the vine trunk of superfluous new shoots and the fruiting cane of superfluous buds.
The vines are topped in June to limit vertical growth and reduce the plant’s energy expenditure. Towards the end of the month green pruning begins–that’s the selective thinning of superfluous grape clusters by hand. This operation ensures optimal ripening of the remaining grapes.
In July and August, excess leaves are removed to expose the grape bunches to the sun for optimal ripening; the vines are also treated with sulfur and copper to protect them from fungal and bacterial infections.
September and October are much-awaited and are the most intense months.
The harvest keeps us busy from morning until night. The grape bunches are harvested and pressed and the crates washed. We are poised for any unforeseen hitches right up until the last grape bunch reaches the cellar. Only then can we heave a sigh of relief.
As soon as the harvest is finished, in November, we begin fertilising the soil to prepare it for its winter rest.
We sow ground cover at the beginning of December after which we leave the vineyard to its well-deserved rest.
As you can see, a vineyard requires care and attention throughout the year and can never be neglected!
All this reminds us or makes us aware of how much work goes into a bottle of wine – especially a high-quality wine!