What is a “green harvest”? And why is it so important in the production of fine wine?

Those are Turbiana (Trebbiano di Lugana) clusters in Zenato’s Lugana DOC vineyards in Peschiera del Garda (photo taken this week).

The vineyard workers have just completed an important task known as “green harvest” or “green harvesting.” Also known in California winespeak as “dropping fruit,” the practice calls for the workers to prune and “drop” healthy clusters of fruit, discarding them.

Why would a winemaker “drop” perfectly good fruit?

By eliminating clusters, the vineyard manager forces the plants (the vines) to focus their energy on the remaining bunches. As a result, their flavor will become more robust. The technique is vital to producing top-quality wines.

This approach wasn’t always the standard in appellations like Lugana. In early years of the appellation’s modernization, the old farmhands would throw up their hands: Why would someone throw away so much good fruit? they would ask. In another, winemakers were looking for volume not quality. But that all changed when pioneers like Sergio Zenato began producing some of Italy’s best white wines in the 1970s and 80s. And that tradition continues today.

The 2018-2019 vegetative cycle has been a challenging one. But as you can see in the photo above, the clusters are looking good and the Zenato vineyard manager is very pleased with the overall quality of the fruit. We’ll be following the 2019 harvest here on the Sansonina blog. The 2019 harvest is expected to be a great one. Stay tuned!

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