Before the Harvest: the Agronomic Side of Wine Production - Part 1

24 August 2020

There is very little time left before the start of the harvest, but even these last few days will be crucial in defining the quality of the 2020 vintage. While it will be necessary to wait a few more weeks to be able to trace an overall evaluation of the vintage - analysing its trend and, consequently, outlining the main characteristics that will mark the new production - we can already introduce this fascinating theme by taking a look at everything that happens before the grape gathering. The production of a wine is indeed a long process that begins way back, in the early months of the year, in the vineyards, and it winds its way through several stages, all carefully planned. The perfect management of these stages is a crucial element in order to obtain a good wine.

To introduce this vast and most fascinating agrarian aspect of wine production, we have chosen to rely once again on the professionalism of the team of technicians of the Tenute d’Italia network. We have met and interviewed for you the agricultural expert Massimo Casella, responsible for the management of our vineyards.

Hi Massimo! To get the ball rolling, could we ask you to introduce yourself and briefly explain your role within Tenute d’Italia.

Hi everyone. I am Massimo Casella, I am an agricultural expert, and my work takes place on the soil, among the vineyards: in fact, I take care of the agronomic management of the vineyards, that is, the care of the plants and their fruits until the time of harvest, when the work passes into the hands of the winemakers.

Can you explain to us what the "agronomic management" of the vineyard consists of?

The agronomic management of the vineyard includes several fundamental programming areas and interventions, namely the defence of the vineyard against disease – and from attacks by insects and fungi; its nourishment, or the planning of a correct nutritional supply to the plants; weed control and irrigation management.

Does your work in planning the defence and nutrition programmes of the vineyards follow a standard protocol or is it possible that changes occur between one year and the next?

Each year is definitely unique! The main variable - not to say the unknown - of my work is represented by the weather, which significantly affects the development of fungi that attack the vine: powdery mildew, downy mildew and botrytis.

In addition to the weather, there are many other factors that affect, directly or indirectly, every year to define the trend - and the quality - of a vintage. Let's think, for example, of insects: every year their number and, above all, their aggressiveness can vary significantly. Defence programs against these pathogenic agents therefore have to be based on the monitoring programs carried out at regional level which provide us with essential data to guide us.


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