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the wine harvest

The wine harvest is a much awaited event, perhaps the one most enjoyed by locals, when the economic balance of a whole year’s hard work is celebrated with the joy of sharing the harvest and the crushing of the grapes.

The ritual of the harvest was historically very strong, when friends, relatives and neighbours came to meet in the vineyards and all set to work on the vines.

Everyone started at dawn, accompanied by a cart pulled by a horse or a mule carrying baskets and bigonci (large tubs) for the grapes, tools for harvesting and baskets with bread, cheese and a nice bottle of wine for lunch.

On arrival in the camps they unloaded all the necessary tools; baskets and buckets were placed under the pergola, ready to be filled with bunches of grapes that harvesters cut from the vines with a sharp pair of scissors. Very often the work was accompanied and softened by the songs sung by women peasants.

Another important moment of community was at lunchtime: a tablecloth spread on the grass with baskets filled with homemade food and the whole group of harvesters would sit on the grass, sharing food, wine and life stories.

Returning to work after the break, filling the containers of grapes, their contents were then emptied into the ‘bigonci’, which were loaded onto the shoulders of strong men, or worn on the head by women, then the contents were emptied into a vat and pressed by the barefeet of the young girls of the village. Then the liquid mixed with impurities (known as ‘mosto’) came out from a hole in the vat which was kept closed with a stick, while the denser, ‘vinaccia’, was left in the vat and then harvested last to be crushed in the winepress.

The ‘mosto’ was then poured through a funnel into the barrels with the ‘vinaccia’, crushed well, some water added and it was left for a couple of days, then it was pressed again, and left to decant for a couple of weeks. The liquid obtained from the first pressing was called ‘La Vinella’ and this was drunk before the bottled "good" wine was ready. With the crushed grape stalks, a waste product of the last harvest, the ‘L’Acquavite’, a type of grappa, was produced.

The land of Lunigiana, still very tied to traditions, is a land where many ancient vines have always produced good local wines. After World War II the introduction of new varieties, along with the recovery of the vineyards’ "DOC" certification, led to the production of local wines of the highest quality to be restarted.

In Licciana Nardi, near a picturesque medieval castle overlooking the river, Sabina and Andrea of Azienda Agricola Castel del Piano have replanted the vineyards of the historic manor, choosing a selection of different grapes that could produce fragrant wines, such as Pinot Nero, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Chardonnay, along with the most interesting indigenous grape varieties of these valleys, producing an exciting and unique "blend". Walking on the soft earth that houses and feeds these colourful vineyards, Sabina and Andrew will take you on a journey in which the original taste of these wines will join the ancient traditions of the vineyard so dear to those who love the earth and feel close to nature.

For information and reservations, visit http://casteldelpianolunigiana.it