September and October are for Tuscan people the most exciting months of the year: it’s harvest time! Everyone in Chianti is involved in picking up grapes to create the amazing wine we are used to drink in Tuscany. Harvest is not as easy as one might think, though: there are rules to follow. The first one? The passion and love that Tuscan people feel for this work.
Autumn is the best period to visit Chianti
A trip to the Chianti area is a must when visiting Tuscany, and guess what? This is the best period to do it! The hills are still touched by the sun till late afternoon and are coloured in a vivid green, the weather is great and enjoyable, and it’s less crowded than in summer. It’s a magical moment where you can see how wine is made and smell the perfume of must all over the cellars. These are clearly good reasons to come and visit this beautiful area, but they are not the only ones. In this period, indeed, you are also able to see farmers picking up grapes on the vineyards. Some of them do it mechanically, but most of them prefer to pick them up manually. It's a long work that involves many people and gets your hands dirty, but it's definitively worth it. In fact, this process lets you choose which grapes to pick, guaranteeing a better quality wine. Tuscan farmers share a strong passion for their job and their territory: like artisans, the love they feel for their region is transmitted in the products they create, making Chianti one of the best wines all around the world.
Grape harvest, better said “vendemmia”
"Vendemmia" is the moment when farmers pick up the grapes, which are then taken to the cellar to begin the winemaking process, that will transform must into wine. It involves hard and long work, but it’s also a fascinating ritual that farmers love. You don’t need a lot of tools to become a grape picker: a pair of good secateurs or a knife with hooked blake will make the work. Farmers won’t let you stay in bed long, "vendemmia" usually starts early in the morning! The heat of the sun can indeed increase the risk of grape fermentation, ruining the crop and the wine. Also, grapes should be dry: we don’t want our Chianti to taste like water, do we? Grapes are picked and carefully put in small baskets, which will be brought to the cellars immediately. In the past, "vendemmia" involved the whole family for weeks and it was the most important and delicate event of the year. Nowadays, many people help in the harvesting process, but the mood and the atmosphere of the past have been kept alive: "vendemmia" isn’t just work, it’s a real celebration and a social event open to anyone.
Chianti Classico, Riserva, Gran Selezione: let’s make it clear
If you visit the Chianti area you have to be prepared and know what you are about to taste. Let's start with the basics: Chianti Classico takes its name from the area where it’s made. This territory goes from Florence to Siena, covering eight cities: Greve in Chianti, Barberino, Tavarnelle, San Casciano, Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole, Radda, Castelnuovo Berardenga and part of Poggibonsi. Chianti is mainly made of Sangiovese grapes, which can be 80-100% of the wine. The rest (maximum 20%) can be Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The wine is ready only after 11 months from the bottling and has a minimum alcohol content of 12% vol. If you are in Tuscany and you visit the wine area, you’ll also be able to taste Chianti Riserva, which has a minimum of 24 months of ageing and an alcohol content of 12.5% vol at least. The top of the pyramid is reached by the Gran Selezione, made with the best grapes of the vineyards and left at least 30 months for ageing.
If you’ve never been to Chianti and this is the first time, you can join our Chianti Tour to discover not only the wine, but also the villages and the culture of this beautiful area.