Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Grape harvest

Years ago, when Action Man and I were first manacled together, I took him to stay with my Italian relatives in rural north-east Italy. My relatives have some farmland, including grape vines, from which my uncle makes the most stupendously drinkable red wine you can imagine.
We became well acquainted with that wine during our stay, so much so, that by the time we left it had become our joint goal to make our own wine one day, using our own grapes.

It took 10 years until we were able to buy the land to make it possible. One of the first things we did, apart from plant fruit trees, was to plant 100 shiraz and merlot vines for our own personal vineyard. And now, 5 years on the vineyard as you can see above is pretty well established. On Sunday we had our second and biggest, grape harvest.
Last year was our first vintage. We made 80 litres of shiraz, which we were pretty chuffed about.
We have been a little uncertain about this year. Summer 2007/8 has been a very wet, cool season after years of drought. Our vines were full of fruit, but we’ve been pretty nervous about the state of the fruit. After we had 225mm (or 9 inches) of rain in 24 hours a few weeks ago, we thought we’d be lucky to salvage any fruit at all, with thoughts of split fruit and/or fungus ruining the grapes. Luckily, our grapes survived, if not in perfect condition then in good-enough condition.
Then we waited for the sun to improve the sugar content of the grapes, but that didn’t eventuate either. In the end we decided we had to harvest. If the grapes lacked sugar, well then, we’d have to cheat a bit with a bit of sucrose.
In the end, we crushed about 300 litres of juice, for about 300 litres of wine. Such a lot! The ironic thing is that I have cut my wine drinking back recently to about 1-2 drinks a week. It seems we will be giving the stuff away, assuming it is drinkable.
As I write the must is audibly bubbling away in the shed at the back, so fermentation is well underway. There is an unmistakeable winey smell too. We’ll press this weekend. I’ll keep you posted on how our wine goes….

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