In the middle of the summer, while most of us dream of “negotiating” with the beaches, the summer joy, and the buzz of the bustling islands, in the Ktima Kir-Yianni vineyards, that strange meditative silence that precedes a major battle prevails.
It is the prelude to the vintage.
Cicadas and birds chant the basic music theme. The leaves respond, with a steady rustle. The weather leads as a skillful orchestra conductor. Man observes the grapes – the cluster held by the stem, the stalk that separates them, the berries carrying in their transparent skin, the flesh and the seeds, the sugars, the acids, the salts, the vitamins, the tannins, perfumes, and oils. The grower watches, tastes, measures, and waits. He has bid farewell to the hot and dry spring of 2017, and warmly welcomes the earliest vintage year of the last ten years, with no rain, no damage, no fungi. Hope for a great vintage is in hand; it’s the pips of this year’s grapes that have hastily changed color, signaling the beginning of ripening.
The fruit is filled with juices, it grows bigger and gets its color, its sweetness increases, its acidity drops, the skins develop flavor and aromas. Longing and tension rise together. A rain or even worse a hail may ruin everything or speed up a process that needs its time. Forty days pass and international varieties are ready. On the sixtieth day, Xinomavro, officially closes this year’s ripening cycle in Ktima Kir-Yanni. It is the ideal time for the wines we are planning to make, a brief period when the weight and the sweetness of the grapes remain stable, tuning in mystically in the nature.
It is the melody of the vintage!
From this moment on, the tones go up; the pressure escalates. The Kir-Yanni production team, headed by the oenologist Antonis Kioseoglou and the agronomist/viticulturist, Dr. Haroula Sprinthiropoulou gives the signal for the beginning of the harvest and the end of the laborious viticultural work in the fields.
Every year, at this intense and critical time, Mr. Babis, who is responsible for the vineyards, brings together all our vital forces, a group of experienced harvesters whom he knows well and young workers who learn the job from them. Our common goal is to achieve the harvest of fruits in the shortest possible time and to have the most valuable result.
Following the method we applied in recent years, we rip all our vineyards through two to three passes depending on the maturity of each bunch, while the standard sorting of the grapes one by one on the control tape comes to complete the first sorting, the one that takes place at the vineyard.
It’s August 18th, and we begin at Yanakohori Naoussa with Merlot. On the 20th we pick Sauvignon Blanc from Samaropetra of Amynteo, on August 24 we continue with Cabernet Sauvignon and at 25th we collect Syrah.
Everything – science, physical labor, mutual care – follow the pace given by nature and its elements. In linear vineyards the green and loaded vines “run” aligned. From the dawn, the harvesters with straw hats and colorful scarves descend, under the sun changing gradually the colors of the slope. With curved knives and special scissors, they carefully cut the umbilical cord that connects the bunches with Mother Nature. The stacks overflow and take the road to the winery and the refrigerators that will keep them cool for one day, before the second sorting, the extracting, the first separation and the compression in the vats.
The scene is magical, the fatigue is present along with the smiles and Mrs. Dina’s song, who every year treats the vintage as a celebration. And our vintage here at Ktima Kir-Yianni is indeed a celebration, a pilgrimage encounter, where people kneel on the earth and bless the divine sunlight.
On Saturday, the 26th of the month, Papa-Stratis, our priest is here to sanctify our vintage and read the special “Wish for the vine harvest”. We keep on laboring God willing and weather permitting. Spring hail in Amyndeon may have affected our production, but the absence of rainfall during ripening and harvest gives all our varieties/fruits a beautiful clean look, good aromas, balanced acidity and round structure.
Together with the September cyclamen, we start on the 18th of the month to pick Xinomavro, ready to give high quality wines with excellent color, very good structure and strong fruity aromas. By the end of the first ten days of October the crops have been gathered and passed through the open vats equipped with an automatic piston for pigeage.
At the winery, an old-fashioned radio plays an old Greek hit “When wine speaks ” – the local station is also, tuned. The smell of the must is stunning.
In a little while, man can pause for a moment, breath, eavesdrop the vineyard that calls for daily attention and have an esoteric chat about his recent deeds and his present yields.
The sun sets, the Vintage of 2017 has taken its place in the barrels, the quality and quantity have rewarded the work that preceded in the vineyards. With the music of this year’s vintage harvest, we are composing wines that are great as life, wines that tell the story of our land, feel and taste like this year’s weather, bring people and eras together; these are the Kir-Yianni wines, and we are excited to share them for one more time in the near future with you.
Thank you for participating and see you next year!