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Deciding When to Pick in Tuscany

Barbara Kronenberg-Widmer makes wine in Tuscany's Chianti Classico and Maremma areas.

Posted: Aug 28, 2008 9:09am ET

By Barbara Kronenberg-Widmer

Posted by Barbara Kronenberg-Widmer

So far, 2008 has been one of a kind. The always long awaited rainfall in winter did not end until spring. That's rare enough in Tuscany, but in the Maremma it is rather exceptional. It challenged us in many ways, but we managed well, for the most part. What we're striving for is quality grapes and targeted yields in all of Brancaia's vineyards, in both the Chianti Classico area and in the Maremma.

We lost a spectacular amount of fruit due to an extremely high population of wild boar and deer that are becoming more wicked—and hungry—every year. The traditional electric wires do not keep them out. We are now even protecting some vineyards with six-foot-high plastic fences—improvised and not very fancy-looking, but very effective. Our good relationship with the local hunting societies also comes in handy now.

Since the middle of August, we have been analyzing the grapes in all our vineyards weekly to understand the ripening process and to then decide the right picking time for each vineyard individually. This analysis includes technical tests in the lab as well as visual and organoleptical impressions (tastes and scents) in the vineyards.

On Aug. 21, we started harvesting Merlot in the Maremma. Like every year, we seem to be the first estate to begin harvesting. The harvest has only just started—the grapes are all healthy, the vines are in good shape and the weather is optimal. We therefore have no stress and can perfectly decide on the best picking day for each single vineyard ... so far.

In the Chianti Classico area, we will start analyzing the vineyards in-depth on Aug. 26, to ensure we make the right decisions on picking. But my last tour of the vineyards already showed me that the Merlot is developing well there also.

I have also decided to harvest grapes from some of our white wine vineyards (remaining from a older project) and to vinify the grapes. Let’s see.

So far so good.

Steven Sherman
san francisco —  August 28, 2008 6:12pm ET
BarberaIt has been a couple of years since I was at the property, but we talked about your love of Petite Verdot. Was wondering if you ever decided to bottle a one? It seems that the varietal is becoming a bit more marketable with the excellent ones coming out of WA, along with Spain and CA

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