Walk in the Vineyards
We are glad to share with you our passion for wine and our territory. Discover the secrets of viticolture and broaden your knowledge about the world of wine. We make a journey throughout flavours, tradition and history of a unique land...Tasting and enjoying a glass of wine together!
Let's start our walk in the Vineyards!
T he Origins
Bred in the Caucasus and Mesopotamia, perhaps just in 6000 BC 1., the vine spread to Egypt and Phoenicia by 3000 BC 2. In 2000 BC it had reached Greece 3. by 1000 BC it arrived in Italy, Sicily and North Africa 4. in the following 500 years it appeared in Spain, Portugal, southern France 5. and perhaps in southern Russia. Finally the Romans brought it to northern Europe 6. and to Britain.
Family: Vitaceae - Genus: Vitis - Subgenus: Muscadinia, Vitis
A ncient Times
The wines of Greece today are not very famous but they were praised by poets in ancient times. In Athens the game of fashion kottabos was particularly popular: at the end of the feast the guests threw the last sip of wine left in the cups, trying to hit a saucer balanced on a rod of brass. The wine was also flavored with herbs, spices, honey, or diluted with water (sometimes sea water). All this raises doubts about the quality of these wines! The Greeks rationalized viticulture in southern Italy, the Etruscans in Tuscany and to the north, the Romans in the rest of the peninsula. But...What kind of wine did the Romans drink? The concentrate juice was often produced by heating the wine and sometimes it was also smoked to obtain a flavor that might remind the Madeira. In Rome, people discussed the “great vintage” and drank wine aged for very long periods: the famous Opimiam (the name derives from the consul Lucius Opimius 121 BC) was served well after 125 years! The wine wasn’t stored in glass but in jars of clay which could contain about 35 liters, while barrels were widespread in Gaul. The Romans brought vines in Provence, along the Rhone up to the Languedoc, then along the Loire and the Rhine and in Burgundy. By the fourth century they vines arrived in Paris, but with little success in Paris, and in the Champagne area. We don’t know for sure when Romans arrived in the wine growing region of Bordeaux. The poet Ausonius, who lived in St-Emilion in the 4th century. AD, left the oldest evidence that vines were already there since a long time. The foundations for modern French wine industry had been laid!
M iddle Ages
The Church played an important role in the production of wine and in handing down knowledge: tools, techniques and terms remain the same throughout centuries. Monks were particularly active in cultivating vines. Wine was not only a fundament element of liturgical celebration but also a symbol of prosperity and luxury. No other region developed an obsession for wine as Germany. Here people built huge vats for the harvest, that of Heidelberg could hold 221,726 liters of wine!
M odern Ages
Until the early seventeenth century wine was the only drink that could be stored and its consumption reached incredible high levels. Later things changed: chocolate arrived from Central America, coffee from Arabia, tea from China and Netherlands developed the art of distillation. Clean water returned in the city, it missed since Roman times. Consumption fell and people developed new ideas as well. Glass bottles became quite widespread, corks and corkscrews were introduced and the owner of Château Haut-Brion wines first proposed Reserve, produced with selected, late and intense grapes. In the eighteenth Champagne method was quite ready, Sherry and Porto were ready, Malaga and Marsala lived a positive time. The wine market thrived, but the scourge of phylloxera fell, an aphid which endangered the entire vineyard in Europe. The solution was the introduction of rootstocks and the vineyards were rationalized. After the phylloxera, wine producers had to struggle with Prohibition, the Great Depression, World War I and 2, and of course...bad weather! In the area of Bordeaux for example only 11 vintages in 40 years turned out good!
I nnovations and discoveries
In the twentieth century Pasteur’s researches explained the phenomenon of fermentation, in Bordeaux the first Department of Enology was officially opened and refrigeration could finally control the development of he fermenting must. California began to rule! In this area wine makers focused their attention on varietal wines, especially Chardonnay and Cabernet. The history of wine we drink today started in the sixties with new vineyards in California, Australia and South America...The ongoing developments will continue to surprise us!
Focus on the Vines
C abernet Franc
This variety comes from Gironde, in the south-west of France. The date of its introduction in Italy is not sure but a vineyard Cabernets (Cabernet franc and Cabernet sauvignon) was on theEuganean Hills (Padua) just in 1870. The experimentation of this vine started in Umbria in 1993 anf it’s still not widespread in this region.
It’s a vine from the valley of the Rhone, it is believed to be introduced in France by the Emperor Probus (III sec. AD). It has expanded rapidly in warm climate regions, for its intense flavor it’s ideal for blanding wines. In the glass it has a deep yellow-gold color, it has complex aroma of ripe apricot and lime blossom with good acidity. Good for aging but not for a very long time.
A vine native of France (Burgundy). Its name comes from a small town in Mâconnais called precisely Chardonnay (from chardon = thistle). The period of its arrival in Italy is not known and until 1978 (the date of enrollment in the National Catalogue of Varieties of Wine), it was confused with Pinot Blanc. It is a spontaneous cross, probably occurred during the Carolingian period, between Pinot noir and Gouais blanc. Chardonnay is very widespread in France where the grape is used in the most prestigious wines in Burgundy and in Champagne.
What is a vine?
They play important functions:
2) Absorption and transport nutrients and H2O
3) Accumulation of reserve substances
4) Production of phytohormones (cytokinins, ABA) that regulate the behavior of the plant.
The maximum development takes place around April and May, it is suspended to allow the
growth of shoots and starts again in August and September. The best temperature for growth is
about 24 ° C. Their lateral expansion and density are related to genetic and planting distances.
The planting distances can be from 1,000 to 20,000 plants / ha. Actually in Umbria vines are
planted at a density of 5,000 plants / ha to obtain a balanced vineyard.
Another important factor is the soil: a sandy soil is easy to penetrate, medium ones offer a good
balance and cleyey soils can hinder the development of roots.
It can be from 10 to 220 cm high, it depends on the system of farming.
It plays an important role of transport and reserves and it must be without large scars from
cutting and bending should not be quite wide. The trunk can be extended horizontally with
B ranca (base of the shoot)
These 2 ore more years old - parts are useful to connect the trunk, or permanent cordons, with
the vine stocks left during annual winter pruning. They must be short, not twisted and with a few
scars from cutting. With the winter pruning are shortened or renewed every 2-3 years.
V ine Stock
They consist of nodes and internodes. The total number of nodes, occurring at the end of the
annual development, depends on the vigor of the plant. There are diferent kind of vine stocks:
Shoots that brings clusters and develop from hibernating buds, shoots and suckers on the trunk,
shoots from latent buds that develop on old wood, such as after a frost.
Flowers become clusters and they are a key element for the identification of different varietals.
The parameters that are considered are weight, shape, presence of wings and colour. It can be
cylindrical, pyramidal or conical, can be loose or compact, more or less winged, etc.
Thanks to their activities the plant metabolizes all the substances used for plastics and
energy functions. The upper surface is usually glabrous and the lower part is usually covered
by respiration organs. If we observe them carefully we can recognize the grape varietal. The
most important characters of the adult leaf in the ampelographic analysis are size, shape, number
and shape of the sinuses, teeth of the border, color etc.
B erries: the pulp
Soft or fleshy, juicy and crisp, rich in water, pectin, minerals, vitamins, nitrogenous substances
especially sugars and organic acids.
The sugars contained in the berries are primarily glucose and fructose. Tartaric and malic
acids are the main one, plus a small percentage of citric acid. The tartaric acid is more abundant
but less aggressive than malic acid. Malic acid can be transformed into softer and milder lactic
acid through malolactic fermentation, enhancing the pleasure of wine.
B erries: the skin
The composition of the skin is as important as that of the pulp. Thick or thin, soft or firm, it contains
water, pectin and cellulose that make up the its own structure, but it’s especially abundant
in aromatic substances and polyphenols. Polyphenols are the base for color, taste and tactile
features, a crowded group of substances, consisting of pigments and tannins, the percentage of
which varies depending on the variety, the production area, soil, climate, type of vinification and
maturation in steel or wood.
One year in the vineyards
J anuary, February, March
It’s time for winter pruning. The old fruits bearing cane and
other shoots are removed. The shoot intended for fruit bearing in the forthcoming vintage is left
on the vine. Repair work to vine supports is done now. In march staking and wiring should be
completed and fertilizers applied. At the end of March, rootstock and scion cuttings should be
prepared for grafting.
The sap that comes out of the pruning wounds signals the resumption of the roots
after the winter rest. It is necessary that the soil temperatures reach around 10°.Stem and branches
regain the water and minerals lost during the winter.
A pril. May, June
Grafting is carried out, if needed. Replacement vines are planted and the
canes of pruned vines will be tied to stakes or wires. In June: spring (green) pruning starts.
Shoots are tied to maintain vertical position. The grower eliminates sterile (non fruitbearing)
buds from the vine, suckers (side-shoots growing on old wood) are cut off, long shoots are trimmed.
Pruning ensures that leaves receive optimum light, it creates adequate air circulation to
control humidity and consequently plant diseases. It also allows the vineyard workers to select
the shoot on which the buds have the highest potential for fruiting.
The new buds swell, open up about 20 days after the first evidence of awakening and
the little leaves appear. New bud and flowers grow and pedicels also develop to support the inflorescence and
Approximately 8 weeks after germination the vine begins to bloom. It is a
critical period because of frost, dust mites and diseases. The optimum temperature is between
18 ° and 20 ° C. Inflorescences change in clusters. Each fertilized flower is a berry.
Spraying, if it’s necessary. Excessively long shoots are trimmed. The grape skin changes its colour. It reduces the accumulation of chlorophyll
and other pigments begin to appear. In white grapes it’s difficult to detect while in black
grapes it’s easily see thanks to anthocyanins. The berry starts to accumulate sugar very fast,
from 2-3% to 7-8%.
In August: Only the perfectly ripened grapes keep the substances responsible for the correct
balance of aromas and flavours of wine. What happens in the berry exactly?
They increase their weight, accumulate sugar, reduce acidity, increase pH, primary aromas
appear together with the precursors of secondary aromas.
At this stage it’s important to reduce the quantity of grape bunches per shoot in order to
maximize the quality of production. The process of thinning involves the removal of excess
or immature clusters. As harvest time draws near, it is also essential to eliminate excess leaves
to allow the grapes the best circulation of air and light exposure to prevent disease like Botrytis
cinerea. Harvest begins in some zones.
In August the shoots change in colour from green to brown. This process starts with the ripening of
clusgers and ends with the fall of the leaves.
S eptember, October
N ovember, December
Winter plowing, if the soil is dry enough.
Focus on the Vines
Grape variety originally from the south-west France, especially in the area of Bordeaux, where it is the basis of some of the most prestigious wines of the Gironde. The first mention dates from the late eighteenth century. In Italy it came in 1880, in Friuli. The name comes from the blackbird, a bird who seems to appreciate especially the berries of this variety..
Under the common name of Greci or Grechetti many varieties with different characteristics are included. Like all other varieties that are named Greci, it was brought in southern Italy by Greek colonists. 2 biotypes have been identified, different in many aspects, from agronomic to oenological aspects. They are called G5 and G109. The G5 was approved in 1993 and is also called Grechetto di Todi. Recent research has established that it is essentially equal to Pignoletto vine, which is particularly common in Emilia Romagna. The G109 is also known as Grechetto of Orvieto, it is particularly widespread in the province of Terni and a in a small part in the province of Perugia.
Vine frome Spanish, its name comes from the city of Alicante, near the Mediterranean, in the region of Valencia, it’s still one of the most famous wines of in the peninsula Iberica. It appeared in Sardinia, probably at the beginning of the Spanish arrival on the island (XV century), It is still present with the name Cannonau. Through genetic studies, it was determined that Alicante, Cannonau and Gamay of the Trasimento lake are one single grape variety. The Vernaccia di Serrapetrona would seem to be part of the same family.
Mmmm...It smells like...
Wine’s aromas are given by a lot of aromatic substances belonging to different species of chemical
compounds. Each substance contributes to the aromatic complexity of wine, depending
on its volatility, concentrations, relationships with other components and the contact with the
olfactory mucosa. The aromatic substances contained in grape can be influenced by several
factors: availability of sun and heat, soil features, farming system, amount of production.
According to the amount of primary aromas contained in the grape, the different varietals are
classified as aromatic (Malvasia, Moscato, Brachetto), semi-aromatic (Cabernet, Chardonnay,
Merlot, Riesling, Sylvaner) or neutral (Greek, Trebbiano, Barbera, Aglianico, Gamay).
Threshold of perception: it’s the lowest concentration of a substance perceived by our senses.
During the passage from grapes to wine, over 1000 aromatic substances develop in many
different ways. This is a short classification!
P rimary aromas
Each vine has its specific aromas which are also called varietal aromas.
They are mostly present in grape skins from veraisn to grape’s ripening.
Many of these aromas are chemically related to sugars and fail to stimulate our sense of smell
untill sugar changes its structure during fermentation, managing to release the fragrances.
Lots of odorous substances are also linked to chemical groups called alcohols and terpenes.
Terpenes are over 40, but not everyone can exceed our threshold of perception.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, for examples, have typical molecules which
are responsable for the odors of herbs of plants of asparagus and green pepper (to be limited!).
You can percieve them even at very low concentrations. The wine maker who choses these
varietals must also avoid too strong hints of smoke and burn...All because of pyrazines!
Other aromas instead contain sulfur and are known for the smell of mercaptan (garlic), but they
also contribute to the aromas of currant, grapefruit, passion fruit, wood, broom.
S econdary aromas
They develop during pre-fermentation, fermentation and malolactic fermentation process.
In this phase more than 400 scents have been identified.
The most common are the strong aromas of fruit, sweet taste, the scent of bitter almonds, spicy
scents or the sense of viscosity given by glycerin.... But when something goes wrong, much less
pleasant odors appear such as excessive sweating horse, garlic and rotten eggs.
T ertiary aromas
With the slow passage of time, during aging and refinement in bottle, in stainlessf steel or wood,
new aroma appear. This process is particularly evident in wood barrels because they allow a
slow passage of oxygen and at same time they also yield some aromatic substances.
A decisive factor is the barrels’ size: the barriques (225 Lt) affects the character of wine more
quickly than the big barrel (tonneaux 500 Lt), because the ratio of surface of the container to volume
of wine is higher. In any case the wood of the barrels undergoes a small roasting process
that enriches the aroma. Primary and secondary aromas tend to decrease and to be dominated
by the tertiary ones, more mature and evolved. The result is a particular and complex bouquet:
hints of jams and dried fruit, dried flowers, spiced, roasted and ethereal flavours such as wax or
iodine, merged with those already present and evolving.