gloved hands use clippers to cut a bunch of purple grapes

La Vendemmia – Italian Wine Harvest

By Patricia Estrada

An enchanting tradition carried out with friends and family 

Did you know that Italians have a special word that refers specifically to the wine harvest? The word is vendemmia, a verb that comes from the Latin words vinum and demere – wine and to remove. The ancient tradition that takes place each autumn is nothing short of a poetic experience for the thousands of wine producers all over Italy. Not only is there the great sense of accomplishment that comes with carefully gathering the fruits of one’s labor, there is also the promise of a great meal among friends and family. To add to the exhilaration, you know that soon you will be able to take that first sip of wine from the previous year’s harvest. Most importantly, though, you have to know when the harvest will be happening.

“The ancient tradition that takes place each autumn is nothing short of a poetic experience for the thousands of wine producers all over Italy.”

gloved hands use clippers to cut a bunch of purple grapes

Timing is everything

The first step in the vendemmia is the trickiest of all – figuring out exactly when to begin the harvest. There is no exact date, there is only anticipation and excitement – and for the wine producer, much expertise in choosing the exact moment. Some vineyards are open to the public for the ceremonial moment, but in order to participate you will have to be flexible with your availability as it is not up to the wine producer but to the grapes themselves. There is something truly special about participating in a vendemmia – letting go of control and then diving into action the moment the grapes are ready. The shared suspense makes the actual harvest all the more exciting and special. Not to mention who doesn’t love visiting a beautiful vineyard? Above all when you are sure to be surrounded by friends and family and then enjoying a hearty meal with a nice glass of wine from that same winery. 

“There is no exact date, only anticipation and excitement – and for the wine producer, much expertise in choosing the exact moment.”

grapes enjoyed by pickers

Real life examples from this year’s harvest

But don’t just take our word for how special the vendemmia tradition truly is, check out some of the images shared on Instagram by several of the wineries included in our wine shop. From Col di Lamo in Val d’Orcia sharing snaps of their organic brunello grapes to Davide Vignato in Gambellara (Veneto) proudly sharing images of their harvested Merlot grapes destined to become their beloved sparkling Alba. From DS Bio in Frosinone (South of Rome before Naples) sharing their grape measurements to determine the exact time of harvest to the family-operated Giovannini in the hills of Imola (Bologna) sharing their preparation and satisfied exhaustion.

Moreover, in Piedmont’s Le Langhe region we have La Bioca poetically declaring their love of the process meanwhile in Lombardy’s Oltrepo Pavese (meaning Pavia across the Po) Francesco Maggi advertises an end-of-vendemmia feast with fun for the whole family. Of course we can’t forget Tenuta Diavoletto in Romagna happily displaying their splendid sangiovese grapes swaying in the autumnal breeze

case of green grapes vendemmia

In conclusion, we don’t know about you, but we cannot wait for our next vendemmia. Remember, the harvest can begin anywhere between late August to mid October. Grapes must be harvested at the right time, at the right sugar level, in order to have an excellent balance between acidity and alcohol level. That means that you must be ready to get to work at any moment and plan to stay for a couple of weeks, just in case. In the meantime, be sure to check out our online wine shop to get a taste of any of the aforementioned wineries. With all the different regions available, there is sure to be one for every taste. Let us know which one you love the most!

hands holding purple grape bunches

CONTRIBUTOR

Patricia Estrada Administrator

Patricia Estrada is a Salvadorian American polyglot (en, sp, it, brpt). Born in New York and raised in LA, she now lives in Florence, Italy where she loves fine dining, going on walks and road trips.

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