Harvest Report: Altare

Harvest Report: Altare

Wednesday 14th September 2016
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

Back to the Roots: A lesson of Humility... A harvest update from the wonderful Silvia Altare. 

From the domaine that makes some of the most intense wines Piedmont has to offer, in the words of Silvia. "It's that time of year again where we are back to the roots and we're  back to the crazy days. You anxiously feel the need to look at the weather forecast every 4 hours and working 15 hours a day seems normal..."  Read on to discover more.

"...Plus there are no days off for 2 months.  The only places that matter are the vineyards and the cellar.  You look down at your fingers and it looks like you have been buried alive or you've been digging for gold with your hands. Also, you can dream about sleeping or fall asleep eating your breakfast, whichever comes first."

"On Monday the 12th we started picking Dolcetto, our house wine - a very important few days at Altare.  Dolcetto sets the tone for the harvest and gets us ready for the season. We had a tough spring followed by some wicked hail which we are protected from here at Altare. We are fortunate to have hail nets on all our vineyards and have utilized the netting system on the canopy since 2006, so our grapes had minimal damage compared to others."

"I know you judge harvest only when everything is picked and safe in the cellar, but it continues a lot longer than most people ever imagine.  We have all worked so hard and are ready to make some killer wine and the work continues! After 9 months of work where we follow and protect our vines like babies, all of us grasp the clippers and hit the vineyards and with one single simple cut everything starts over again. We are given the opportunity  to turn this fruit into something special, but before that happens the physical work is intense and it makes for long days.  We lose track of all our time and energy for months."  

"Working in the vineyards reminds me that we are farmers first, which is the way my father wanted it.  We believe that great wine comes from the serious work done in the vineyards followed by a meticulous and psychotic attention to detail in the cellar. Working in the vineyards reminds me that winemaking is not only about glamour, selling and traveling, but it’s also about the people that humbly work tirelessly every day to follow a specific regimen in order to deliver  the best fruit possible for our estate and to preserve our heritage."


Dolcetto is right now fermenting into the rotary fermentors. Fermentation started right away thanks to our strong yeast population from working organically. We are natural, but don't raise a flag to let everyone know that we farm organically, because this is the way my father always worked.  We must protect our vineyards and the people that work them.  We crushed the first grapes Monday night, and usually after 60 hours we separate the juice from the skins,

so Wednesday the the first tank will be pressed. This is  when our hands will turn purple and there is no hiding that you are a winemaker.  This is my favorite part of the year when I can be proud of where I am and what I've become. " 

We are very excited to taste this latest vintage! Watch this space for more harvest updates from Italy.