In the year of Corona virus the vineyards in 2020 are the only ones who have had an easy year: cosseted regardless the lockdown, never like this year the final objective was a low yield
In the confusion of the first days of lockdown, while all Italians were shut in their homes, my grape growers continued to go into the vineyards armed with written authorization for travelling by car, and with the first masks on their face. To complicate things, around March 20th, while the vines were just budding, a frost arrived that burned the young leaves. Not a tragedy we all know that we have to hope for a low yield year because Covid-19 will devastate the markets. Such devastations arrived, even worse than we imagined. For this reason I decide to abandon 4 vineyards in 2020 for a total of 8 hectares. On these areas, which obviously I consider of less quality, we will only do the bare minimum.
SPRING FROST AND SPONTANEOUS REDUCTION IN GRAPE PRODUCTION
So I precede the decisions of the Minister Bellanova regarding the green harvesting.
The 2019-2020 winter was very mild and dry. During lockdown at Fattoria del Colle that was deserted, my husband Carlo and I console ourselves sunbathing at lunch time. Flowering of the vines happened between the end of May (in Montalcino) and the beginning of June (at Fattoria del Colle).
DRY AND MILD WINTER, RAINY JUNE, TORRID JULY
In June after several “drought” months the rainfall finally arrives, allowing us some relief, because regardless of Covid-19 we had succeeded in planting a new vineyard at Casato Prime Donne. If it hadn’t rained we would have had to irrigate it.
But rain has also its negative sides: there are mildew attacks and the grape growers start a real battle to defend the vineyards. To stop the white mold, in an organic winery like ours we had to work during the night and interrupt the sulphur sprays as soon as the sun. Quite an endeavour for the tractor drivers and a disturbance for the first tourists arrived at Fattoria del Colle for a rest after months of quarantine at home. Shame but the vines come before everything else. Decidedly in the vineyards in 2020 the year has been a complicated one for several reasons.
FATTORIA DEL COLLE’S WINERY EXTENSION
Because of our fear of the contagions we had interrupted the extension of the winery at Fattoria del Colle but we were also worried to not have enough room for the new harvest production. So at the beginning of May, the works picks up again with the objective to bottle and use the new temperature controlled storeroom (450 m2) before the end of June. And, at the beginning of May from France arrive the barrels and tonneaux. Even though with two month’s delay they are able to rack the wine and put it into the new containers.
NO SPUMANTE 2019
Not everything is postponed. The pandemic also caused us to waiver some things: such as the production of spumante 2019. Just the idea of allowing a company from Brescia into the cellar terrorized us, just like we keep the new bottling machine all sealed because the testing technicians come from Bergamo. Maybe we have been Chicken but nobody on the estate got ill so the sacrifice was worth it.
The activities in the vineyards and in the cellar carry on practically as usual except for the face masks, sanitizers, and quarantine for all parcels arrived through a courier. Finally at the end of June we are able to shut the fermentation area and have evicted the pigeons. 7 years of construction bureaucracy and 5 of searching for funds, but now we have the possibility of opening and shutting the cellar based o the necessities of the wine. The facades will be completed further on.
FORECAST FOR THE GRAPE HARVEST DATE
With July arrives the great heat. The second half of the month is tropical and the temperatures decrease only with the showers at the beginning of August. There are a few dry leaves but the vines are healthy. The Sangiovese veraison begins around July 20th at Casato Prime Donne in Montalcino and a week later at Fattoria del Colle. More or less the vegetative cycle in three parts, each of about 60 days, has been respected: budding, flowering/bud set, veraison, grape harvest. The picking plan foresees: Traminer and Sangiovese base spumante, Merlot from Fattoria del Colle. Transfer to Montalcino for Brunello around September 20th and return to Fattoria del Colle at the end of the month for Sangiovese, Foglia Tonda and Sagrantino.
Now all we need to do is keep our fingers crossed hoping that the year 2020, at least in the vineyards, pleasantly surprises us.