Sunday, October 7, 2012

Un Giorno nella Vigna

They say that you learn something new every day… and then there are those days when you learn enough for the month… Today I think I learnt enough to not go to uni for a week… does uni work that way??

It all came about because a friend of Lorenzo’s dad, Valerio, is good friends with Bernardo, the manager of Colle Bereto, (which is an incredible, and reasonably small winery near Radda in Chianti) and thought that considering the viticulture and oenology course I just started, I would benefit from a tour at Colle Bereto. So Valerio called Bernardo and organised for Lorenzo and I to go down to Radda when the harvest began to see how it all works…

Neither Lorenzo or I had any idea what the day would actually bring, but I have to say it way surpassed my expectations (which pretty much involved a day of picking grapes)!
We arrived at the grand stone … house? Castle? Mansion? on the hill with an incredible view of rolling green vineyards leading up to Radda and the nearly restored monastery (built in 1000).
We were greeted by Bernardo who joined us into an impromptu tour of the cellar and wine making facilities with a group of 4 Americans  who arrived at the same time as us.



When the Americans then moved on to their wine tasting and we moved on to the vineyards with a group of  Italians, who work at a bar in the centre of Florence (also called Colle Bereto) owned by the same company as the vineyard, and had been invited by Bernardo to do pretty much the same thing as us.

So all together in the Jeep we headed down into the vines do some San Giovese grape picking for an hour or so. I would say more grape eating than picking on my behalf… but the vines were clean when I was finished, so I think I did a good job. For anyone who hasn’t been lucky enough to eat San Giovese grapes from the vine- they are small, black, sweet and juicy grapes and are really, really good!

Majority of the vines at Colle Bereto are San Giovese, of which they have 2 or 3 varieties, then the rest of their land is made up with a section of Pino Nero, a section of Colorino and a section of Malvasia. Their main production is Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Reserva, but also make some other fantastic wines…

At the end of our extremely strenuous hour of labour, we made our way back up to the house where lunch was ready and waiting. Antipasto (cheese, prosciutto, crostini and mortadella) with a 2005 vintage of their sparkling wine (made with their Colorino grapes), followed by pasta (2 different sauces) followed by a mixed grill (pork steaks, sausage, stuffed rolled chicken and roast potatoes) accompanied by 2009 Chianti Classico, followed by gelato, followed by biscotti and chocolates, along with Vin Santo (which is an amazing intense Italian dessert wine- which they don’t sell… they only make a really small batch every year for themselves and their guests, using their Malvasia grapes)  followed by coffee and a really big stomach ache. Oh when will I ever learn that my stomach is NOT bottomless!

So with overfull stomachs the next logical step is to play a game of soccer together in the afternoon sun… fun, but uncomfortable!! After which it was time to thank our hosts and head back to Florence.

Bernardo was a fantastic host and guide and was able to answer every question I had about the wines, from the growing, to the harvesting, the fermentation and of course the drinking. A really good experience and a fantastic contact to have for a budding oenologist!


  1. Wow: what an incredible day! Sounds lovely!
    And I'm so jealous it's still warm enough to wear short pants and t-shirts where you are! :-) Up here this time is long gone...

  2. Amazing!! The food, the wine, the sunshine.. looks like you're having a great time :) miss you!