working a harvest in Toscana
This past fall, IWM Purchasing Analyst Tara Carille had the unparalleled opportunity of working the harvest at Le Macchiole. Below is a brief introduction to her experience picking grapes, sorting them, and doing the work that makes the magical wines of Le Macchiole possible.
I always thought I had a good idea of how much work and dedication goes into making wine, but that appreciation exploded when I got to work the harvest this September at Le Macchiole. Everyone is so dedicated and pulls such long hours. Despite the intensity it’s a fun atmosphere and people were genuinely excited to be a part of the process—including myself. I have a new appreciation for the difference in price and rank of wines and how they are made. For example, to choose the grapes that make up Messorio (the estate’s highly regarded mono-varietal Merlot) there are about 14 people working specifically (and this is excluding the hand selection in the vineyard) to ensure that only the very best grapes (and a small amount of stems, leaves or any altering objects) go into the press.
To the left is a photo of the second sorting table inside the cantina. After the bundles of grapes are harvested by hand, the bunches are loaded onto a first sorting table where the bad bunches are thrown before going into the destemmer. Following destemming, the grapes fall into the second sorting table where workers ensure that only the very best grapes (and a small amount of stems, leaves or any altering objects) go into the crusher.
I had my first experience in the vineyard harvesting grapes for Le Macchiole’s 100% Syrah called Scrio. It had rained pretty hard the night before, so it was wet and muddy, but that didn’t take away the excitement for me; I had no problem destroying my sneakers or clothes for a little time in the vineyard. Everything from pruning, trimming and harvesting is done by hand at Le Macchiole, which means I was handed clippers and a pair of gloves and sent out to ensure only the belle uve (beautiful grapes) make it back to the Cantina. After about four hours of picking I returned back from the vineyard named Puttone (Le Macchiole has seven vineyards that takes up about 22 hectares of Bolgheri land) with many crates full of Syrah and purple soaked hands (it took a really good manicure to get my cuticle back to normal).