Harvest 2020: The Good, the Bad and the Funny

In Lazio, the 2020 harvest was characterized by a slight decline in production but providing good quality grapes.  Personally, the harvest brought us a mix of optimism and woes, along with its own set of memorable stories.

We were fortunate to have a quality crop and are more than excited to launch our first wine this year.  Our beautiful, lush bunches of grapes were free of plant diseases and had the level of sugar and acidity we were looking for; a first positive step in winemaking. We cannot wait to bring our new wine to the market later this year. 

We still wrestle with the falling price of grapes within our region: We sell the majority of our grapes produced and only a small fraction goes towards our wine label. This combined with the decline in grape production we saw this year on the farm, it is a struggle to cover all our cost.

Plus, COVID- 19 is wreaking havoc throughout the national and international wine market. The Horeca (Hotel, Restaurant and Cafe/Catering) sector is stagnant and foreign markets are either closed or show a slow reopening.   

I enjoy posting pictures the highlights of the harvest  process and the grapes. But no year is complete without its share of stories and shake your head is this actually happening moments; tense to live through, but when recounting, sometimes you can’t help but laugh. Here are a few:

The  Farmer
Our main farmer had his driving license suspended only a few days before the harvest began,  leaving us short without a farmhand who could drive a tractor.  Our grapes are vinified off our property at a winery; a short distance between the two, but it’s on main roads and left us scrambling to find someone who could deliver.

Who's driving? 


The Broken Crusher
When selecting our grapes for our first wine, we painstakingly selected and cared for these grapes, down to the moment they were brought to be crushed. On the day we harvested, there was the threat of rain, which fortunately held off, but the stress quickly transferred to issues in the winery.

The grape crusher had broken, the sun was blazing and we were wondering if all our hard work was going to ferment in the wrong place.  Farmhands together with the winemaker were working frantically, risking their hands and feet as they climbed down INTO the grape crushers to make them function.

This was the vat they climbed into. 



The Missing Grapes
On the last day of harvest, our 10 grape pickers couldn’t account for missing containers full of grapes. 

 “You worked from 11:30 to 5:30 p.m., there should have been two drop offs, where are the receipts?”, asked my husband Alessandro. He was met with a mute response, confused looks  and shrugs from the team.

They claimed they worked for hours, the grapes were no longer on the vine, but yet, there was no sign of the picked grapes or of them being delivered. 

   The empty container and grape-free vines.IMG_1406png

These issues were worked out: We found other farmhands who could drive throughout the harvest. The winemaker got one of his four crushers to work;  the process was slower, but the grapes were crushed and pressed that same afternoon. The receipt of the last two drop offs surfaced a week later; it was forgotten in a jeans pocket of a worker who started celebrating the harvest’s end a bit too early.  


Despite of, or perhaps because of all the worries, we mark the end of the harvest with a party, complete with a barbeque and dancing, and toast the accomplishments of hard work. 


We will continue with our new venture of wine making and perhaps a plan to plant different grape varieties while keeping our spirits up by laughing when we can. I tell my husband at least our life isn’t boring, even though he sides with Mary J. Blige and her No More Drama mantra.

Published October 30, 2020