The Slovenia Times

Cruising the Vineyards, Filling Bucket After Bucket ... It is Harvest Time


Imagine yourself wearing with a hat, holding a pair of scissors and a basket in your hands. Taking your position in charming vineyard where the interplay of soil and climate seems simply perfect for the wine. But not any kind of wine - you, being part of the team - strive for the idea that only the best is good enough. The formula is rather easy. The best wines trace their origins to excellent grapes and rich soil, an enthusiastic and knowledgeable winemaker with a courageous vision and many, many helping hands which is especially important at the time of the harvest. Unlike elsewehere in the world, in Slovenia most harvests are still manual. "The increase in machine harvesting is significant, but the share is still small, under 20% of all vineyaeds," stresses MatjaĆŸ Lemut, TILIA estate - House of Pinots. It is interesting, however, to note that it is becoming more and more present with the smaller winegrowers, who hardly organise harvesting during the week with the free labour of acquaintances. All participatns are aware that harvesting is also hard work, more enjoyable however, in higher quality vineyards where the winegrowers take care of the quality, improving the health of the grape clusters, taking care that at harvest time they are open and bright spot. "In such circumstances, a good harvester can harvest over 500kg in eight hours," claims Lemut, and adds that nowadays the usual workload is four to six hours.

Slovenian hands-on harvest experience

Taking an active part in a harvest has a deep-rooted tradition in Slovenia and it is probably the most recognisable social work that has survived in the countryside. Very much like mowing, harvesting corn, picking and tapping corn, preparing firewood for the winter... Many tasks have has been replaced by machinery, but the grape harvesting tends to minimise damage to the crop due to its sensitivity to the later quality of the wine. Hand picking is still very much appreciated. In larger vineyards, friends and acquaintances, traditionally enlisted to help, are now replaced by hired seasonal labour, while in smaller vineyards the harvest represents a special social gathering, taking place during the weekend. Lemut estimates that, "at least 40% of Slovenian vineyards are probably still harvested in such an way. While the final part of such a social occasion is the coming together again on St. Martin's Day, when the winemaker usually invites the harvest workers to praise the new wine."

2019 promises excellent wine

This year harvesting, as always with most Slovenian winegrowers, began in late August or early September. Lemut, whose estate lies in Vipava Valley, the fertile and wine-rich part of Slovenia, argues that the true winegrower recognises the way nature works in a given year. "You try to identify with nature, not fight it." 2019 was unpredictable, with multiple-face changes, however nature has allowed a fairly calm and predictable harvest. Also wine growers in Brda, another famous wine growing district in Slovenia, are satisfied with this year's grape harvest, despite the overall numbers being lower than expected, the wine is expected to be of excellent quality. 

Also wine tourism is taking an important part, the grape harvest season is the most exciting and rewarding time to plan a wine tour. Wineries come to life. Being empowered by their rhythm, with your hands on the grape, brings a very unique pleasure. The "final count-down" is coming together again, on St. Martin's Day, November 11th, when the winemaker invites the harvest workers to praise the new wine. After all, the quest for meaning in life can be tiresome. But perhaps there is more simplicity that we seek? Drinking good wine, with good food in good company could rank highly. Perhaps re-listen to the song Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, "...are you happy in this modern world?" Sometimes, traditions are not to be forgotten, nor modernised.


More from Nekategorizirano