It would be unthinkable nowadays not to acknowledge the climate changes that have been taking place in recent years. Having become aware of this, acting to protect our planet and thinking as a community are the ingredients that lead us to speak of the 2023 grape harvest as the dawn of a new season for viticulture.
2023’s early harvest: the ‘new normal’
If the grape harvest is over in a few weeks, a few days and a few hours, the truth is that it is the outcome of year-round work. This is why, in order to answer the question “how did the 2023 harvest go?”, it is important to take a step back.
The climatic trend of 2023 followed two markedly dry years, and was characterised by a spring with little rainfall, a surprisingly cooler start to the summer than in recent years, but above all extreme heat during the rest of the summer season, with no rainfall at all during the month of August, especially in the Nizza DOCG area.
If the less young cannot forget that the grape harvest used to mean the end of summer, in recent years, the long heat waves have strongly conditioned the ripening phase of the grapes, leading to harvest operations being considerably anticipated.
Yet, just when it seemed the games were up, some rainfall in the first days of September allowed us to slow down the harvest, and to see a considerable replenishment of the suffering bunches.
Looking at things in perspective, we can perhaps begin to speak of a ‘new normal‘. And so, even in 2023, we have been carefully monitoring the grapes since the beginning of August, deciding to start harvesting around September 10th, except for the harvesting of the sparkling-based wines, which started around mid-August, and for the white varieties, which had already been harvested between late August and early September.
The dawn of new viticulture
Without a doubt, the 2023 harvest will be remembered as one of the most difficult and complicated for Barbera, yet the results we are seeing suggest that the road we are taking is the right one.
While preserving our landscape and making virtuous environmental choices come as our priorities, it is also true that it is difficult to reverse the trend of an increasingly adverse climate with low rainfall and prolonged periods of drought.
In this scenario, what counts most of all is the care, love and foresight that our cooperative and our members demonstrate every day.
So it was that in 2023, temperatures – which reached as high as 39-40°C between the rows – forced us to revise our harvesting schedules, favouring the cooler hours of the morning and making winegrowers and oenologists to wake up well before dawn to take care of the grapes.
Ripening-control became of paramount importance in deciding the best time to start harvesting, and the vine, with its innate resilience, was able to surprise us once again.
The result of the 2023 harvest
From a quantitative point of view, the production potential of bunches per plant had already seemed good at the beginning of the year; pathogen pressure was contained, and the harvest was of good quality from the point of view of grape health and good levels of ripeness.
In spite of the problems, the 2023 vintage delivered excellent quality with healthy grapes and an aromatic framework that was a harbinger of wines with a basic organoleptic identity for the excellent Barbera d’Asti 2023.
Waking up at dawn, monitoring the grapes even on Sundays, interacting every day and doing the rain dance are but a few images that led us to outstanding wines.
Comment by Marco Giordano, director of the Cantina Cooperativa Vinchio Vaglio
“The 2023 grape harvest, if possible, with its load of problems, but also of satisfactions and gratifications, has brought out in a more overbearing way the family and yet entrepreneurial spirit that characterises our Cantina.
The attitude of our conferring members translates into an attachment to the Cantina that does not end at the moment of the grape harvest with the delivery of the Barbera, but is expressed through continuous participation.
Each winegrower, with their own ideas and passion, is the true protagonist of the technical strategies of a reality, that of Vinchio Vaglio, which is perceived by the individual as a true community“.