What a day: we transferred our very first batch of Tutto Doppio wine to a wooden barrel, we received notice that we are now official residents of Italy, we hit a key milestone in getting my book on practical applications of the behavioral sciences, and G learned that a key paper from her work on the CHOICE Project in St. Louis was published. We celebrated with a bottle of wine pulled straight from the fermentation barrel: inky purple and promising!
Time for the harvest of the montepulciano d’abruzzo (red) grapes! Maybe a little past, actually.
As the vines are young and the summer tough, we expected a light yield. The plan, then, was to make house wine rather than to spend money renting a tractor, trailer, and driver.
So instead of harvesting the grapes into pails with a tractor following along, we would harvest them into cassette (crates), and then use the hooptie (my 1974 Toyota Land Cruiser) to haul the crates up to the house.
The land was still wet, but the thought of hauling all of those grapes up a steep incline biased our thinking about the prospects for using the hoopster. I made it half way down to the vineyard with only a bit of sideways sliding. Then it became clear that the only decision I had to make was where to strand the thing… hopefully without causing it to tumble down the hill. Stuck in the mud, for real. We will have to wait for Francesco to pull me out with the tractor.
The grapes were playing coy. They were ours for the taking but we would have to fight gravity if they were to come home with us.
So haul we did, all 500kg worth (an estimate). That’s north of a half a ton. We called in muscle (Dimitri) to help us get ‘er done.
The harvest was at least twice what we were expecting, leaving us short a fermenting barrel. Pietro gave a call to farmer Stefano, who despite getting his place ready for 100 guests (annual porchetta festa – AMAZING) brought over a large vat for us to use. We also borrowed his crusher / destemmer, and had at it.
It was a several hour project but now the must has met the yeast, and the happy marriage has just begun.
Buttercup and I took a spin through the southwest third of the vineyard last night, just to see how the berries look. And they look great!
Our vines are young and the spring and summer have been tough, weather-wise. My (admittedly) amateur guess is that we will get about 250kg of grapes. That’s okay for the first harvest, but not really enough to hire help, sell the grapes and the like. So the plan is to make an inaugural “house” wine… by hand (and maybe G’s feet).
Stay tuned… should be a lot of fun ahead!
Our first harvest is in the can… literally! A bit skimpy because the vines are young and the summer weather was challenging, but the quality of the grapes we got was very, very good. We are fortunate to have a good situation: lots of sun, the right kind of breeze, soil with plenty of clay, and a very steep slope to help run all that water away from the vines.
Although the pickings were slim, we couldn’t have gotten it done without the help of our friends: San Pietro, Lidia, Dmitri (and Gigi on the tractor). We made quick work of the grapes and then enjoyed a nice pranzo together!
Next up: the red!
Tomorrow we’ll have our first vendemmia (grape harvest) here at Tutto Doppio. First up: our beloved pecorino — a very cool white grape indigenous to this area, and brought back from the brink of obscurity about 35 years ago.
Weather delayed us by a couple of days, but everything looks good for the morning. We’re excited, a bit nervous, and very thankful that we will get by with a little help from our friends. Stay tuned!
Check out the March edition of Wine Enthusiast. They cover Le Marche, calling it “Italy’s Best Kept Secret.” Here’s a little taste:
Often translated as “the Marches,” this Central Italian region has it all. Pristine beaches and rugged shorelines hug the sapphire-blue Adriatic. Rolling hills lie covered with vines and olive groves. There are well-preserved medieval towns and cultural centers, wonderful cuisine and great wines.
What you won’t find are the throngs of tourists that descend regularly on Tuscany, situated on the opposite coast, although crowds do show up at the main beaches in peak season.
They also talk a bit about the wines of Ascoli Piceno, the slice of heaven where Tutto Doppio is located… and the tasty white wine to which we’ve taken a particular cotton:
… the most interesting wines from the undulating hills around Ascoli Piceno are white, especially the small production of Offida Pecorino DOCG.
Nearly extinct in the early 1980s, the Pecorino grape was saved by local winemaker Guido Cocci Grifoni, who, after years of experimentation, made his first vintage of 100% Pecorino in 1990.
Because of its intense floral aromas of acacia and jasmine, rich white-fruit flavors, creamy texture and mineral notes, more wineries are now producing this fascinating wine, which pairs well with fish and white meats.
Can’t wait to get back to the farm!