Vendemmia, Italian Wine Making Tradition
Vendemmia is an Italian tradition, old and still in vogue to this day, so much so that it has its own word for it. Vendemmia is the day on which we harvest the grapes and prepare them for the fermentation process.
The word itself derives from the Latin words vinum(wine) and demia(to harvest).
Vendemmia takes place between August and October. The beginning of the harvest is the trickiest part, as it will impact the final product in the biggest way. Most industrial vineyards will take accurate measurements of the sugar, tannins, and acid levels of the grapes before starting the harvest. Smaller, family owned, vineyards will instead take a more rudimental approach and “eyeball” this step.
There are also many, smaller, details that should not be omitted when harvesting wine grapes. One of which is keeping the grapes whole and with the peel intact while harvesting in the vineyard. It may come as a small thing, however, it is very impactful as it can cause maceration and coloring of the wine.
Smaller vineyards cut the grapes off the vine by hand, with the use of tweezers, and store the grapes in soft baskets, to prevent them from being damaged while it is carried around.
Large industrial vineyards use big machinery that beats the grapes off the vines, with a mechanical rubber stick, so it falls on a conveyor belt which brings them into a container. However, this method is far from perfect, in fact, the machines can’t distinguish mud clusters from grapes, let alone mature, damaged, or rotten grapes.
While it is a popular belief that Italians still “stomp” the grapes, that isn’t the case anymore. Besides sanitary and hygienic concerns, the producers of wine have adopted advanced methods and machinery to produce a more uniform product across the board.
Though, if you really want to, there are still some vineyards that offer this activity for tourists and those curious.
One tradition that has still remained the same, is the big cookout dinner that families have after a day of harvest.
Nothing beats a hearty chicken dinner with your friends and family, along with a glass of wine, after a long day of intense labor with your loved ones.
Have you ever experienced Vendemmia? Let us know in the comments below this post, we would love to hear your stories!