Vendemmia 2020: The Grape Harvest in the Castelli Romani

In September, the time comes for the annual, fascinating event that binds families, producers and territories together – La Vendemmia.


What is the La Vedemmia?

La Vedemmia is the moment when the grapes, which have grown all year, are harvested from the vineyard and taken to the cellar to begin the winemaking process.


When is La Vedemmia?

The harvest season typically falls during the month of September in the Castelli Romani. However, with climate change, we see it starting earlier and earlier each year.  

It’s when the grapes reach the desired degree of ripeness, aromas, sugar and/or acidity. Many factors determine when the grape is harvested, such as the local weather conditions, production area, type of grape, legislation or type of wine to be obtained. For example, in the same vineyard, one type of grape can reach ripeness before another variety or a big rain storm may move up or push back a planned harvest.


 What are the characteristics of the 2020 Castelli Romani harvest?

It was a hot, dry summer, which caused some vines to ripen early and the harvest to begin a week or two earlier than usual: Some producers began the last week in August. However, the taste of grapes are wonderful and maintained a high acidity.  

Production was less than years prior, but we obtained an optimum quality of grapes. This seemed to mirror the situation throughout the Castelli and Lazio region. 


How do you harvest the grapes?

There are two ways to harvest grapes. The first is manual/hand harvesting, and the second is mechanical.


At our farm, we use manual hand harvesting.  The manual method is more costly, but the main advantage is you are able to select the bunches for better quality control.  


The second way is mechanical; grape harvesting machines collect grapes by vertical or horizontal shaking. The process is faster and more efficient, but there is debate about the quality level and the perception is not as appealing as a hand harvest.


What happens after the grapes are picked?

Once the grapes are cut, we place them in bins and they are quickly taken by tractor to the winery for the vinification process. You want as little time as possible to pass between the picking of the grape and grape crushing and pressing. Firm bunches with intact skin are a prerequisite for making a good wine.


Fun facts regarding the harvest and how we do it at Azienda Agricola Carafa Jacobini:

We don’t harvest when it rains: The water could affect the quality of the must. 


Our team, which consists of approximately 10 people,  starts their day at 6:00 am and finishes at noon to avoid working in the intense heat of the day. Working in the hottest part of the day is not only exhausting for the workers, but the heat is not favorable to the picked grape; it could lead to loss of aromas and an accelerated fermentation.  


Our growing system is the tendone, or pergola training systems . We need to reach up to cut the grapes (it’s a workout!). This training system is not conducive to mechanical harvesting.


We have approximately 18 hectors/ 45 acres of vineyards, it takes us approximately 4 weeks to complete the harvest. 


We always cap off the process with a festive lunch with our family and team, toasting the accomplishments of hard work and the completion of another harvest.


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