Cumingsuma a vendemmié! That’s “Let’s start the harvest” in Piemonteis. With a later summer lingering into October, the Nebbiolo grapes ripened early this year. Add a rare weekend-long gap between preparing and guiding trips, and I was thrilled to finally help harvest at our friend Sergio’s vineyard in Rio Sordo, Barbaresco.
Is it back-breaking work? Actually, Barbaresco’s steep hillsides are a plus here: standing on the downhill side to harvest with the plump, luscious bunches hanging high, no deep bends are required.
And better still, harvesting is a wonderfully social activity. We worked in pairs, chatting about wines, weather, grapes and local gossip in a mix of Italian and Piemonteis. The work of snipping bunches, untangling a few from branches or wires, and trimming dried or red-tinged berries that hadn’t quite ripened to full colour, went fast and the red plastic boxes filled quickly. In the golden autumn sun, fondling such fat luscious grape bunches, it was a joy to help.
And sometime after 2015, when the Produttori di Barbaresco release this Rio Sordo Riserva vintage, I’ll savour its taste all the more knowing my sticky fingers helped it to happen.