September: The grape harvest in Tuscany
Here we’re talking about wine, because September is the month of the grape harvest and of the celebrations dedicated to it.
In some areas of the south, grapes are ready for harvesting in August, and towards the more Northern regions, it can take up until November for the grapes to be ready – it all comes down to ripening of the grape, it must have the right level of sweetness. In Tuscany, the grape harvest happens in September, and is therefore big on the agenda for a region to which wine is very important.
It’s not just about Chianti, a wine which everyone knows, but least we forget about the fantastic wines from Montepulciano; Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, and Morellino di Scansano, to name but a few. Being such an important part of life, there are many celebrations and festivities dedicated to the grape, and of course its final product.
The first organised celebration started in 1926 in a town named Impruneta, in the Chianti area. It was during the Fascist period, a time when the Government wanted to celebrate local traditions and products with fairs, and most of these have been maintained to the present day. The celebrations in Impruneta are on the last Sunday of September (the 24th, this year) but the town is busy beforehand, buzzing with the preparations for the parade which goes through Piazza Buondelmonti. There is a competition between the four districts of the area, to see who can create the most beautiful carnival float. The parade is accompanied by dancing and music and it’s a lively affair.
Siena also has its own Festa dell’uva from September 20 through 24 in Castelnuovo Berardenga. There are also events in Gaiole, Chianti from the 16th to the 18th of September, and in Panzano, with its Vino al Vino celebration at the end of the third week of September (15th, to the 17th during 2006).
In Rufina, on the northern border of the Chianti area, there will be a series of fairs and festivals called the Bacco Artigiano. Concerts, wine tasting, and products made by local artisans will enliven the magnificent Medicean villas and village squares of Rufina and Pomino from September 28th to October 1st.
The celebrations move to Florence on the 30th of September, wine is blessed and offered to the Lordship of Florence, in a ritual which started in the 13th century when the consul of Arte dei Vinattieri – the wine maker’s guild, offered the wine to the seat of government – the Palazzo della Signoria for use in the refectory.
For more than twenty years this tradition has been revived, celebrating the ancient ties between the city and the countryside. The Matto float gets blessed in the churchyard of Piazza del Duomo. A large float made from a mountain of Fiaschi wine, and then, the historical parade of the Republic of Florence and the Countrymen of Rufina march toward Piazza della Signoria, where a whirl of music and flag bearers bring an end to the party.
The island of Elba, where the Moscato and Aleatico varieties are produced, also has its own grape festivities on September 25th in Capoliveri. Named the “the island of many wines” by the Greeks and the Romans, today Elba produces seven DOC wines exclusive to the area. Moving inland the area of Scansano in Grossetto opens its wine cellars to showcase the excellent local red wine Morellino di Scansano, and other delicious local products in the Morellino e Sapori DOC festival. People dress for the events in medieval costume and the events include archery. If you’re really enthusiastic about learning more with regards to the history of wine, then for a small fee you can go to the Museum of Wine, in Carmignano, where you can learn everything from the harvesting of the grape, to the final production stages of making the wine.
Museum of Grape and Wine
P.za Vittorio Emanuele, 2 – Carmignano
Tel: 055 8712468 – 055 8750265
From October 1 – March 31
Tues – Sun 9.30-12.00, 15-17.30 and the first Sunday of each month the museum is open all afternoon
From April 1 to May 14 & from August 1 – September 30:
Tues – Sun 9.30-12.00, 16.00-18.30.
From May 15 to July 31:
Tues-Sun 9.30-12.30, 16.00-19.00