Harvest 2018 <br/>in the Allegrini Estates’ vineyards
30 October 2018

Harvest 2018
in the Allegrini Estates’ vineyards

On the 19th of October, we terminated our harvest. The last phase took place in Valpolicella! It’s incredible, but this harvest took us back in time. Too often, in fact, in the recent past, we experienced early harvests compared to the seasonal average. This year, however, was quite different ... but let's look at the weather pattern in a little more in detail.

We were faced with a long harvest, with ripening that was slow, abundant and of a high quality. Spring was particularly wet and in early July, given the abundance of grape bunches, we carried out some thinning to bring the vineyards back into a state of ideal equilibrium. At the end of July, a dry period began, interspersed with some much-needed rainfall. On the eve of the harvest we experienced heavy rains (up to 170 millimetres of water), which made us fear the worst. Fortunately, the weather forecasts announcing further severe weather were proved wrong. In September there was a sort of new ‘mini’ summer season, with temperatures reaching as high as 33°C, high temperature ranges but equally high differences in day and night-time temperatures (even variations of 15°C between day and night), which allowed the grapes to reach ideal ripeness. Phenolic ripeness occurred after the third week in September. The harvest began on the 10th of September and was completed on the 19th of October with the harvesting of grapes in the upper hillside vineyards situated at between 400 and 500 metres above sea level. The grapes are in perfect state of health, with good quantities as well as good quality. Even in the drying facility, the weather conditions during this initial period are on our side, ensuring grapes with a very promising, healthy profile.

The 2018 harvest at Poggio al Tesoro began on the 27th of August and ended on the 3rd of October. The very wet spring raised some concerns from the point of view of the health and the quality of the grapes. But the summer brought significant change in the vineyards, with constant sunlight and breezes. Thanks to agronomic practices that encouraged increased air circulation around the grapes (leaf thinning, re-ordering the bunches, pinching out new shoots, bunch thinning), we managed to obtain grapes that were excellent, both in terms of health and quality. During the last part of the harvest, when all the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon grapes were still in the vineyards, the temperatures, especially at night, decreased drastically and were accompanied by cold North and North-east winds. This situation enabled the grapes to stay dry and preserved them from Botrytis and various other moulds. Thus, we were able to leave the grapes in the vineyard to complete their phenolic ripening in the best possible conditions. The harvesting of the Vermentino grapes took place at night, as well as that of grapes to be used to produce rosé wines so that the bunches would be cooler and so as to avoid oxidation. The first red grapes to be harvested were Syrah. These grapes were protected from scorching by being treated with kaolin, a natural product extracted from a rock. The harvest continued with Merlot, accompanied by a trial ‘accapanatura’, which means that the long shoots are twisted and tied along the upper wires. The harvest was then interrupted for a few days in order to complete the ripening of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon vines located both on via Bolgherese and in the Le Sondraie vineyard.

Vintage 2018 featured a trend that can be summarised in one word: calm. The harvest began on the 20th of September and ended on the 5th of October. Right from the beginning, nature took its time; because of the harsh winter the season started with a slight delay compared to the norm, and the spring vegetative growth was slow and constant, thanks to cool temperatures and heavy rains in May and June. The hot but never torrid summer and the excellent temperature ranges allowed the vines to continue their development in a well-balanced fashion. This calm trend was also reflected in the harvest, which was among the longest in recent years. Nature decided to take its time, and we like to follow its rhythms, so we adapted by setting a sequenced harvest, working from parcel to parcel and in some cases even harvesting grapes in the same parcel separately, in order to wait for the perfect ripeness of the wonderful grapes that this vintage has bestowed upon us. At the moment, the wines are fermenting in the winery cellars, again with the same calm approach seen throughout the harvest and which I am convinced will also characterise the ageing process. We will wait, impatiently, to be able to taste them, though we know full well that if we respect nature’s own time and rhythms, we will eventually appreciate them even more.