Rarely is an excuse needed to travel to Italy, and the central region of Tuscany is a much-loved tourist destination all year round. As the summer draws to an end and the leaves on the trees begin to turn a shade of golden brown, Tuscany really comes to life, with festivals and celebrations all revolving around one of the region’s most prized assets – wine.
Autumn in Tuscany is grape harvesting time; the vast acres of countryside are taken over by glorious color while a hoard of wine enthusiasts travel from around the world to immerse themselves in this most wonderful of seasons.
While the majority of tourists prefer to sample the delights of Italy during the summer months, for wine lovers September and October is the time the magic happens. The vendemmia – Italian for grape harvest – takes place every year during these months (exact dates vary between vineyards depending on the weather and the grapes reaching their peak of ripeness). This is the most productive time of the year for local farmers, as tourists travel to the region to embrace the local culture and enjoy more than a spot or two of wine tasting!
During the vendemmia, wine festivals take place across Italy, though Tuscany remains the home of winemaking. The Festa dell’uva in Impruneta is the oldest and most revered festival in Italy. Featuring local wine tasting, fresh local produce, music, dancing, and parades, it is their biggest event of the year. Throughout the months leading up to the festival, you will find the town making grand preparations. For some wine enthusiasts, visiting Tuscany at this time of year is really all about learning about and, of course, tasting, the wine. Another option is to experience grape harvesting by getting hands-on in the vineyards and fields.
Participating in a wine harvest
To work in the fields and vineyards of Tuscany, a person must be contracted and insured by law, so unless you happen to be friends with a farmer, you will need to be part of an official wine tour or work experience program to partake in some grape picking. Most farmers are generous enough to let you pick a handful of grapes during a visit, but for an authentic experience you should take your place on a properly organized tour or go through the legal channels to find work.
If you do happen to get the opportunity to participate in the wine harvest, remember that it is not light work and it’s always a good idea to have travel insurance. Picking grapes starts very early in the morning, and is followed by a rigorous physical process that involves cutting grapes and transporting them to the cellars where the wine making takes place.
Your appreciation for wine will be that much more if you involve yourself in the process. The greatest reward is ending the day with an Italian feast and fabulous wine!
Whether you travel to Tuscany to participate in grape picking or just to enjoy the fruits of other peoples’ labor, there is certainly no better time to enjoy this most beautiful of regions than during the autumnal wine harvest.
Are you a lover of wine? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Olive harvesting season is just around the corner, too! You may enjoy- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: From Tree to Table, Part One – Harvesting
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