If you could hold your breath for the whole of the harvest, you would. I honestly don’t know how the farmers cope with the pressure. Around the time these Barolo grapes are maturing, anything could happen. The dangers range from late summer rains drawing damp to the fruit, hailstorms, disease, even fire.
I came to visit Gianni in the early grape picking season near La Morra. He has painstakingly tipped the bunches of his Nebbiolo for sparkling wine production. Here they lie, their perfect little compact roundness waiting to be tossed into the press.
Only that the said press has broken down. When I turned up Gianni was waiting for the mechanic to arrive. The mechanic arrived and there was much head scratching, followed later by gestures of grabbing certain parts of the body – which are never a good sign.
And so these beautiful little tips of Nebbiolo bunches, so lovely in their red cases, get wheeled off to a cooler area. The mechanic says ‘domani’ and Gianni says ‘domani’ and this breathless waiting game that is the harvest, starts again.
Optimism must be a defining trait of any farmer. As is creativity and problem solving. So Gianni will wait in the hope it’s tomorrow, as will the little Nebbiolo tips in their red cases. Hold your breath, cross your fingers and wait.