We arrived on a mid-October morning just before six to photograph the first day of harvest at Tenuta della Terre Nere in Solicchiata. The sun was just peaking up over the vines as the workers spread out into the vineyard to begin picking the first perfectly ripened clusters of nerello mascalese.
We had spent the afternoon before with owner Marco De Grazia, walking through rows together as he tasted grapes and explained the subtleties of choosing just the right moment to harvest.
“I go to the same vineyard every two days. I do ten vineyards a day, just tasting before harvest. You can have all the analytics you want but there’s nothing as complex as your palate. Nothing that can taste the difference. Taste the skins, the juice. Look at it. Feel it. See how the canopy is turning colors.
Every little detail in the end makes the difference between a fine wine and an outstanding wine. That is why tradition – knowing that particular vineyard is so important. If you notice, small properties, such as in Burgundy, don’t have winemakers because the most important part is the viticulture. The tradition they have of going from father to son, of knowing those little plots is fundamental…much more important than any winemaker.
People have been making wine for six thousand years without winemakers. And if they all died – which I certainly hope they don’t! – people would still be making wine for another six thousand years.”