WORK IN THE VINEYARD
Pruning. Carried out in the winter to cut back shoots that have grown too long during summer. Tying the vines. Between later winter and early spring, shoots are tied to the wires according to the type of training system used. At Fattoria Pogni two different types are used: single-arched, in which the shoot is bent downwards and tied to the wire, and spurred cordon, in which the shoot is tied horizontally to the wire leaving small spurs of branch above. Thinning the foliage. Deciding whether or not to do this job is a wager: only the weather conditions in the subsequent months will determine the result. On the one hand it allows the grapes greater exposure to the sun’s rays, but on the other is leaves them exposed to harmful weather conditions too, such as hail or heavy rainfall. Treatment for vine disease. This is carried out periodically as necessary to prevent diseases which could affect the health of the vine or the grapes. The most common of these procedures is spraying with copper sulphate. At Fattoria Pogni all the procedures carried out conform to the strict environmental regulations of supervised control.
In particularly productive years the bunches are thinned. This is usually carried out between late July and early August, and is called “green harvesting” because the unripe bunches removed from the shoots are green. Bunch thinning sometimes involves a considerable reduction in the quantity of grapes produced per hectare but is absolutely necessary in order to maintain high quality in the grapes remaining on the vine. In order for the vine to nourish its fruit properly, there should be a maximum of 4-6 bunches and no more on each plant. The first bunches to be thinned are those furthest from the stalk.
Weather conditions permitting, the harvest should be carried out when the grapes are perfectly ripe. This may vary from one variety to another: for example, Cabernet grapes are ripe 10-15 days after Sangiovese. When harvested the grapes should have a good balance between acidity, which makes the wine fresh-tasting, and sugars, which will turn into alcohol. The right level of ripeness also means the grapes have high levels of polyphenols, allowing the wine to be aged in wood.
Before removing the bunches form the vine, we must make sure the grapes are in perfect condition: perfectly ripe and healthy with no mould or any other defects. Damaged grapes might spoil the other grapes in the cases, and the quality of the wine would be affected. The grapes are harvested by hand, cutting the bunches one by one, without ruining the grapes or the branch to which the bunch is attached. The bunches are laid in perforated cases so that if any grapes are squashed and lose their liquid, it will drain out instead of fermenting.
The grapes are then taken from the vineyard to the winery, which must take place quickly since harvesting takes place at a warm time of year and the heat might start up fermentation earlier than expected. To make good wines, fermentation must begin after the grapes have been crushed. Also, once the cases are on the trailer, the trip from the vineyard to the cellar must be smooth, avoiding holes in the road, since the grapes are fragile and can easily be damaged by bouncing about in the cases, in which case they will be unsuitable for making into good wine.