Winemaking fun under the warm Cortona sun

I’ve got to admit my only experience with the wine harvest involves swirling the end result around in the glass and making it magically disappear.

pressing grapes outside cortona, italy. warm tuscan fun

CORTONA, Tuscany, Italy–I’ve got to admit my only experience with the wine harvest involves swirling the end result around in the glass and making it magically disappear. Olives, we’ve picked. Grapes, no. I’ve had offers, but weasled out of them to my great regret. Next time! We have friends who are selling their Villa outside Cortona and moving back to Australia. We hate to see them go. But, if you have to go, do it like they are doing and go out with a bang! They have just finished a stellar, multi-year renovation on their property that they can be truly proud of plus, as you will be able to tell from the letters below, they just had the fine experience of growing, harvesting and bottling their own wine. They have been in Italy for years and they really have been living the dream while they were here. Complimenti a tutti e due!

I’d seen their winemaking pictures and really wished I had been part of their party. I asked them if they would put words to pictures. And I’m tickled to be able to share their adventures here.

See you in Italy,

Stew Vreeland

any more in that barrel of grapes? winemaking in tuscany, italyHi Stew,

It’s hard to describe the pleasure of holding a glass full of just pressed novello from the rich harvest of our sangiovese grapes after a perfect, hot, dry summer nurturing these abundant vines. That we could share the process, initially with one, and later with three groups of friends was an added joy.

In the end, the best words that spring to mind are total satisfaction.

First came a full week of pruning in January. Then watching the vivid foliage burst forth in early primavera and working hard to maintain the truly biological, organic fruit – despite the insistence of neighbours that we should be dousing the vine leaves and swelling grapes with copper sulphate. Days with friends when we thinned foilage to let the sun and vitality of the vines concentrate in the fruit in summer. The heartbreak of pruning almost half the crop in the last month to improve the quality of the bunches we retained, followed by meals, wine and many happy hours. In late September, picking, de-stemming and crushing the grapes, all by hand, ready for fermentation and two weeks of testing sugar and alcohol levels until the “must” was ready to press. The last winding of the arm of an antique wine press in perfect Tuscan sunshine, followed by a fabulous al fresco lunch as our first vintage sits in a cool wine cantina to clarify before we move it
into an oak barrel. We’re not in Italy. We’re in Heaven!

Hi Guys,

This is priceless. Well done and well said. Great adventure.

Oh, one more thing. Did you plant the vineyard or was it an ongoing entity when you got there? I seem to recall that all the equipment was on site in your original pictures. Must have taken some studying up to know how to do this. You sound like you may have done this before.

Thank you for this and all best,



happy campers of tuscany, italy after the wine pressingHi again, Stew,

The vineyard was here when we got here. The equipment was too. But it was pretty rusty (and not antique) so we threw a lot of it out and begged/borrowed/stole/bought what we needed as we needed it. As for studying, apart from sommelier Arnaldo (from Trattoria Pane e Vino in Cortona) there’s a great consulente enologica in Pietraia (about 5 minutes drive from us) which sells ‘everything’ you could possibly need to make wine and has knowledgeable staff whose brains we have picked extensively 🙂 Salute!