On Saturday 9 November, along with grower-members who supply here the grapes, the winery will officially open its new fruttaio, the grape-drying facility in Via Fra’ Granzotto 7, in Tregnago, in the Valpolicella DOC area. A covered area of 10.000 square metres, in operation from this year’s harvest, with a potential of 25.000 quintals of grapes.
The facility lies at an elevation of about 350 metres, a strategic position, since it ensures a fully natural drying process, thanks to the currents of fresh air that blow down the Illasi valley.
This is one of five grape-drying facility of Cantina di Soave. With the acquisition of Cantina di Cazzano di Tramigna in 1996, and that of Cantina di Illasi in 2005, the Cantina is today one of the largest producers of Valpolicella-area wines, with a significant amount of the total Valpolicella DOC vineyards, approximately 1.400 hectares lying on the hillslopes on the eastern side of the denomination.
The grower-members deliver to the fruttaio of Tregnago grapes destined to become Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG under the Rocca Sveva, Poesie e Cadis designation.
The 100 crucial days for the grapes of Amarone
Drying the grapes is a tradition in this production area: a delicate process lasting an average of 100 days, the time it takes for the water in the grapes to evaporate until the berries have lost 30-35% of their weight.
The grapes that go to produce Amarone, a winemaking jewel famed throughout the world, are Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella: all of them are characterised by thick skins, which favours a very gradual drying and preservation of the interior richness of the grape.
The clusters must be selected on the vine with meticulous care: they must be loose, and not compact, with space between the berries for air to circulate. The clusters then go to the fruttaio, where they are placed in special crates pierced with air-holes, in large, well-ventilated areas that favour the natural dehydration process, and, in turn, the concentration in the berries of sugars and aromas. After some 100 days, usually in January, the grapes are pressed, and they begin their long journey to become Amarone. The Amarone Specification requires that the wine be aged for a minimum of two years from 1 January following the harvest, and that Amarone Riserva receive a minimum of four years’ ageing, beginning from 1 November in the harvest year. Certainly a long wait, but one well worth the wait.