In making quality wines the winegrower and winemaker are constantly seeing to the vines, grapes and later also the winemaking process be it for pruning, harvest, the fermentation process, ageing or blending of the wines.
These steps are repeated with commitment and passion year in year out. It is important to relate to both climate and soil affect the grapes. Every year, in order to produce high quality craft wines, every step in the process is designed with respect to the earth, the vines and the wine. Please see below pictures showing work progressing in the vineyard and the winery – from field to bottle.
Pruning – from December to March
Pruning of vines is done by hand from December to March. This is to ensure the vine’s recovery and future production, an important step that lays the foundation for the harvest. We strive to get four sprouts from the branches of the previous year and finally eight grape bunches on each vine.
Preparing the soil
We plow the soil between the vine rows to minimize vegetation. Organic fertilizer and winter pruning are used to improve the vigour of the grapes. All work in the vineyard is done to ensure durable vines less sensitive to disease. We check all vines 10 times a year.
During the wine year, the sun is the main factor the grapes mature. On the other hand, too much heat and sun is harmful to the grapes. In a very hot year, the foliage is kept around the grapes to minimize the risk of the grapes being burned. Every year we hope that the weather gods are on our side and spare us from rain and hail. Hail can damage both the foliage and the grapes, reducing production. A lot of rain may make the grapes swollen and watery.
Continuos plowing in the vineyard is essential to contribute towards maximizing the vegetation of the vines. The ambition is to air and tear off remaining roots formed between the rows as they may affect the vines negatively.
The vine is in blossom in May and June. From then on we count 100 days to harvest. The vine is self-pollinating so during this period we wish for wind and no heavy rains.
Vérasion is the magic moment when the grapes begin to change colour and mature. When they do, usually in late July or beginning of August, there are about 50 days to go til harvest.
Sangiovese (the picture above) is the main grape variety at Terreno. In order to produce a Chianti Classico wine, it must contain at least 80% of Sangiovese. Besides Sangiovese we grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Trebbiano, Malvasia, Merlot, Pinó Nero, Canaiolo and Petit Manseng and Rousanne.
What determines the quality of the harvested grapes depends on all the work done in the vineyard between April and September. First, foliage and twigs are removed to get optimal sun exposure but also to allow the right amount of airflow. Thereafter, the green harvest is done where some of the immature grape bunches are removed from the vine in order to achieve the best quality grapes.
Freshly picked grapes
The carefully selected bunches of grapes are harvested by hand when they are fully ripe, and are placed in plastic trays holding 20-25 kg. Harvest is done by hand to minimize the risk of oxidation and loss of colour in the grapes. Gently handling with the fruit is important.
When the grapes arrive at the winery, we use special tables with a rotating belt to make it easy to distinguish and remove bad fruit, leaves et.c.
The pressing is done mainly in traditional basket presses and partly in a horizontal press. The basket press is the most gentle when producing quality wines. The pressing takes about 1-2 hours.
Drying and hanging grapes
When we make our Vin Santo, the harvested grape bunches are hung up to dry. When they have hung for about a 100 days and turned into raisins, it is time for the pressing. A sweet dessert is the result. This is aged in small chestnut barrels for at least 5 years before bottling.
After pressing, the must is pumped into temperature-controlled steel tanks. For some wines fermentation takes place in open tanks and oak barrels. The must ferments with natural wine yeast for 25-30 days, until all sugar is transformed into alcohol. The grape skin is part of the must during selected parts of the process depending on what wine is being made. From the skins the wine gets its colour, aroma and taste as well as tannins.
Marking of the barrels
When a wine has been assigned a place for ageing – be it a cement tank, an oak barrel or one of the larger Italian oak barrels ‘botti’ – the day it was placed there and the name of the wine are noted on the barrel.
Our wines are aged partly in large Slavonic oak barrels, French 225-litre oak barrels and in traditional cement tanks. The wines are aged from 12-24 months in oak barrels. The ageing in the barrel helps soften tannins and to make the wine more full bodied. The wine’s final characteristics also depend on the size of the barrel. Our table wines are only ageing in steel tanks to maintain the primary fruit aromas.
Aroma and taste
In order to be able to follow the maturing process regularly, tastings are carried out during all parts of the production. This is important to achieve a balanced and structured wine and we also need to make sure that the wine is doing well.
This is an exciting step in the winemaking process. Here, we try to find the synergy between the different grape varieties that later will be blended together into a Chianti Classico. It is important to maintain a balance between the vintages in both structure and aromatic expression. Like a painter with his palette of colours.
We carry out all steps in the winemaking ourselves – from planting of vines to bottling of the finished wine. The bottling is done when the wine has aged long enough in barrels or in tanks. When the bottling is completed, some of our wines are stored for another period of time before being released on the market.
The labelling takes place when the wine is ready to go in the market. We hand-label limited editions and use an automatic labelling machine for the larger productions.
Vino e Cibo = Wine and Food
Wine should be enjoyed with good food and in good company.
For further information about our organic winemaking please have a look at our Organic Wine Certificate.