I's the heart of the summer season when the island's winemakers prepare to start the harvest. Maturity controls become more frequent, the last technical checks are completed and the harvesting teams are in their starting-blocks. This intense period will continue for some until the end of September.
But why does the harvest last for such a long time?
Different factors need to be taken into account. Each of the wine micro-regions on the Island of Beauty has a microclimate of its own. This is called the terroir effect. These minimal climatic differences between estates can sometimes vary the optimum maturity for the same grape variety by a few days.
The surface area of an estate and its grape variety collections also explain the spread of this period. This ampelographic diversity is the main wealth of the different wines of Corsica.
In parallel to the harvest, the various vinification stages follow one another. Future wines finish their fermentations, reds undergoing maceration are regularly tended. Some wines with maturing potential will take their winter quarters in more or less typical containers; oak barrels, urns...
In the vineyards, winegrowers prepare the soils for the winter resting period. It's also seedling time, and the winemaker can then set up various plant pallets for the purpose of thinning, retaining soils or stimulating microbiological activity on the plot. This grassing of the inter-row areas provides biomass and helps stimulate soil life.
In November, it's time to start using fertiliser. These various additions to the plot continue until March, according to what the winemaker wants to achieve. Whether it's compost or other fertilisers, such use of organic matter will help the microbiological stimulation of the soils, increase nutrition of the vines and promote soil humification.
In the vineyards, pruning is coming to an end. It's now time to give the earth back some of what it's given us. The winemakers then proceed with grinding, or burning the branches to restore to the plot a little organic matter. February also opens the upkeep season and restructuring the plots. Trellises are replaced and plots planted. It's also the ideal time for planting new vines. In the cellar, the first bottling takes place, it's time to present the vintage and the first trade shows open their doors.
The vines come out of their dormancy, it's the beginning of a new chapter, the start of a new growing cycle. The first Niellucciu vines begin their budburst. In parallel with the awakening of the vineyards, the winemaker continues to tend the weeding and works his soils to promote better competition management. It's time for the first hard work: ploughing, hoeing, shearing and pricking take place, around the first debudding. The resumption of the vegetative cycle also means developing the foliar surface. The first activities cover and protect the vine against the main diseases of mildew and powdery mildew.
It's the beginning of flowering, the winemaker continues his debudding to limit the amount of foliage, and so limit the development of diseases and fungi. This is called prophylaxis. In a second step, once the twigs are sufficiently developed, the winemaker raises the first wires to optimise the foliar surface and facilitate mechanisation of the different plots. The maintenance of the soil and weed management are part of continuing work that won't end at the post-harvest period. These different activities depend on the winemaker and growing choices.
The lifting process intensifies on the plots, and some winemakers then start their first pollarding and trimming operations. Pollarding helps stop the growth of the twigs by cutting the tips. Trimming facilitates mechanisation of the plots while promoting the air flows inside the foliage, so limiting the development of diseases. May flowering is coming for the latest grape varieties, the clusters continue to form, and it's time for fruit setting.
With the closing of the clusters, the earliest grape varieties start their ripening from the second week of July. At this point, there's a little over a month for the winemaker to prepare the harvest. But July is also the time of the green harvest, which helps limit cluster overcrowding and therefore the proliferation of diseases on the vine. For the most vigorous vines, this operation also helps reduce the yield and therefore means the vine can focus on the best carefully selected clusters.