Since becoming a half wine farmer, I have developed deep respect for all our farming ancestors and fellow farmers around the world. Only after having sweated so much, could I start to look at every bunch of beautifully formed grapes with different appreciation. It’s literally no pain, no gain…
Every sip of the wine, is the juice of the whole year’s diligent effort. Yet at times there has been pain without gain! The farmers are working with their hands but the results are largely also up to the invisible hands of the nature. Just like this year.
We started the year well but since at the late spring and early summer it has been raining so often here in Piemonte. As we want to protect the cru’s integrity in the long run, we don’t want to use “diserbante” or herbicides. So instead a lot of work has gone into keeping the vineyard clean from the fast growing weeds. The spring rain is not a bad thing, especially for the young barbera and pinot nero plants at the new vineyard, but too much rain means higher risk for the disease for our vineyard due to the high humidity. The most concerning disease in our Piemonte region is called Flavescenza dorata or FD, a virus carried from plant by the small leaf hopper insect. Whenever a plant has contracted FD, it won’t die immediately but the plant’s metabolism will change so that the grapes in summer will dry out like raisins. As there is no cure nor prevention possible the then eventually the plants will die after a few years. So here we really fear FD and gets tears in our eyes when we see the sign of FD : leaves turning red and start folding inwards. There only thing to do is to cut down the plant so it does not spreads and then plant a new vine next spring, but it will takes decades to have the same quality grapes the vines that passed away.
And then just when we thought the rainy season is over and the green grapes are hanging on the branches just start to show the reddish maturation sign, one midnight a wild storm brought the hails along with it. The next day when I walked in the vineyard to check the damage, like many of my neighbors, my heart clenched to see many of the grapes has been bruised and wounded by the relentless pie sized hails.
There is one month more to go before the harvest, but it is already now obvious that 2018 will be smaller harvest for Qimisola as we will have to select the grapes carefully to ensure the best quality of the wines. We can always hope and pray after so much adversity from the nature this year, the last part of the growth can be filled with joy leading to a sweat harvest. That would be the most rewarding for the unusual year of ride with so many ups and downs :-)