The grapes used to produce our wines, for which we can give an absolute guarantee of quality, soundness and origin, are exclusively those harvested on our land. In our vineyards six varieties of red grapes are grown: Groppello, the indigenous grape, Barbera Sangiovese and Marzemino since centuries on the territory, Rebo, a crossing that we planted first in 1992 and Merlot, a grape we love. We have four hectares of vines, all in the area of San Felice del Benaco in the countryside of Portese, where today we have 15.451 vines.
AGE AND VARIETY
Today, in 2020, the age of the vines is as follows: 28 years old 22%, 23 years old 19%, 20 years old 9%, 17 years old 19%, 14 years old 16%, 7 years old 15%.
In the past thirty years, we have never bought one single bunch of grapes from other vineyards, and so we mean to go on. Should we ever make any choices which differ from the above, we promise to declare so in our salesroom and on this site.
In our area summer storms and hailstorms are quite frequent and these can damage the grapes in the vineyard, pushing the vine grower to take measures by purchasing a substitute product. Our response to this risk has been quite different.
Today our vineyard
is 100% protected by anti-hail nets
– using a vertical “apron” system which does not create shade, suited to grapes for quality wines -
On many occasions the anti-hail nets have protected us from small or large-scale damage to the quality, enabling us over the years to bring perfectly whole grapes to the cellar.
QUALITY OF THE RAW MATERIAL
Our prime requisite for our grapes is quality: at the time of harvesting we want them to have reached that point of ripeness which makes them suitable to produce great wines.
Many factors contribute to this end but here we wish to underline the most relevant: two basic choices (elevated density of planting and grass-growing in the vineyards) and a choice which is made each year in the vineyard (the thinning of the bunches of grapes).
Density of planting
Our vineyards have all been planted to a density of between 5000 (first plantings in 1991 - 1992) and 6500 plants per hectare (last plantings in 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2013). This enables us to produce a little on each plant and it is well-known that this is the first rule of quality.
Grass growing is an agronomic choice made many years ago which has proved to be a success concerning the characteristics of our soils and our climate. We allow the grass to grow spontaneously in the vineyard, tending it so as to guarantee balanced development and to ensure that it grows constantly throughout the whole season.
Especially in rainy years grassy soils guarantee healthier grapes which ripen sooner, as a result of better balanced plants: they are less vigorous, they produce less, the bunches of grapes are less compact, with increased thickness and content of polyphenols in the skins.
Grass growing also improves the structure of the soil (favouring the expansion of the roots), the life in the soil (a greater quantity of organic substances means more micro organisms, more earth-life means a better natural balance) and also the bio-diversity outside the soil (the presence of useful insects and mites).
Selection of the grapes
Finally the thinning of the grapes (some call it a “green harvest”), is decisive for the quality of the raw material/grapes: every year when the grapes change colour, some time between the end of July and the beginning of August, we walk along the rows of vines, patiently observing each plant and we select the bunches which will stay on the plant to ripen perfectly, freed of those in excess. This is a choice which forgoes quantity in favour of the quality of the grapes which remain on the vine, which in certain very fertile years becomes decisive, to say the least.
The second requisite, that of wholesomeness, is closely linked to the first, that of quality. If the grapes remain sound around the time of the harvest, even in difficult years, the vine grower does not have to resort to early harvests and can wait for the moment of perfect ripeness.
Generally vineyards based on the choice of low productivity per plant produce grapes with tougher skins which are disease-resistant, grapes which will on average be more wholesome in the most problematic period which is that of the last weeks of ripening.
But when we talk about wholesomeness we are not only alluding to the integrity of the grape at the time of wine-making. We are also referring to its being the result of the agronomic management of the land and of the nutriments and protection from disease applied to the vineyards. The health of the grapes thus becomes the most important guarantee that we as vine growers can give to those who consume the product of the fermentation of those grapes.
We also protect the plants from harmful insects using plant extracts, such as Pyrethrum, which is only used after specific field tests to verify their effective necessity.
Years of experience, including years with climactic conditions most favourable for the development of diseases, have shown us that it is therefore possible to produce wholesome grapes of the highest quality without using any substances of chemical synthesis.
We have never used chemical herbicides
That yellow band of chemically-burnt grass sometimes visible under the vines has always made me think: never in our vineyards. The grass under the vines is simply cut, when necessary.
We only use fertilisers
of animal and vegetable origin
to a degree which is sufficient to keep the fertility of our land unchanged over the years; live soil is in fact the best place for the roots of our plants to grow.
Plants are protected from cryptogamic diseases using natural products,
mainly Copper and Sulphur
which have protected European vineyards from Downy Mildew and Powdery Mildew for over a century. We do not use products of chemical synthesis which work by penetrating the plants; Copper and Sulphur are “cover” products, they act by depositing themselves on the leaves and grapes and their protection is valid for a few days until washed away by the rain.