We are approaching the most celebrated season of the year here in Tuscany- the much anticipated Vendemmia, or grape harvest. The annual grape harvest traditionally begins in late September or early October and draws the participation of most every Tuscan from the physical harvest itself to the endless array of festivals, feasts and local wine celebrations. The grape harvest is the most crucial part of the winemaking process and is begun in accordance with the the ripeness of the grape itself measured by its sugar, acid and tannin levels.
This year is an especially exciting one considering the extraordinary forecasts of the upcoming vintage. According to Paolo Bruni, the president of Fedagri-Confcooperative, an organization associated with 423 canteens and 148,000 winemaker members, producing nearly half of all the wine in Italy, the quality of the grapes harvested this year in Italy is supposed to be of the highest quality over the past ten years. In particular, the Chianti vines this year have been reported to possess a luxuriant vegetation contributing to the grapes’ ideal quality and a harvest five percent greater compared to last year’s. The exceptional quality of this year’s Sangiovese grape has attracted the attention of the wine community. The combination of cool evenings and high day temperatures over the past months in the Chianti region has contributed to the full maturity and superior quality of this year’s grape.
Chianti, the Tuscan area that produces Chianti Classico wine for centuries and is recognized as the best wine growing region internationally, remains Tuscany’s most prided territory. One can sense the ancient traditions and history that fills the Chianti region. First civilized by Etruscans who were very active in the wine harvest, followed by the Romans, the control of the rich Chianti region has historically been battled for between the cities of Florence and Siena. Today, the region’s eternal chestnut and oak forests are blanketed with olive groves and vines, contributing to the global economic importance and influence of the zone. The impressive number of Chianti wineries draw the attention of tourists around the world who come to witness its breathtaking beauty.
Beyond celebrating the taste value of the Chianti’s wines, there is a large movement savoring its aesthetic and therapeutic benefits as well. Wine therapy, also referred as vinotherapy or vinoterapia in Italian, has received much attention in Tuscany. When applied topically, studies have proven extensive benefits. Grape seeds, stems and skins contain high quantities of powerful antioxidants, minerals, pectic, sugars, tannins and vitamins that are fundamental to the skin’s well being. The combination of these elements serve to fortify the skin by reducing inflammation and slowing the skin’s aging process. The substances found in the acids of the wine grape are known to strengthen microcirculation while increasing the resistance of the blood cells and protecting the skin’s elastic and collagen fibers. Additional research shows that wine therapy tones muscles, reduces varicose veins, eases allergies and fights stress and depression. The benefits of wine therapy were already recognized by Cleopatra and the Romans who kept records of their practices. Legend has it that Cleopatra loved being massaged in the wine must.
The production of Tuscan wine therapy products is growing rapidly as an industry. Products are based upon the enrichment of red wine powder, red grape seed extract, crushed grape seeds and pure grape seed oil. The most common products available include powders, masks, soaps, creams extracts and cosmetics.
Today, Tuscany is the home of the wine therapy movement, offering innumerable vinotherapy hotels, spas and vacation packages to those tourists and non who are interested in the ancient yet effective indulgence. Particular wine treatments are offered exclusively during the vintage season including the much-spoken about baths of freshly harvested Sangiovese grapes. In San Sano, a village near Gaiole in Chianti, the vineyard Castellare de’Noveschi added a bathtub to its famous 13th century wine cellar. The vineyard has embraced wine therapy as an addition to the traditional wine tourism industry. Expanding the vineyard experience, Castellare de’Noveschi has added Cabernet soaps, exfoliating Merlot scrubs and Chianti baths to its more traditional offerings of wine tastings, tours and meals.
San Sano in Chianti, the home of the Castellare de’Noveschi vineyard, is an enchanting village located in close distance to Siena and Florence. The village is completely surrounded by beautiful vineyards and olive groves, creating a perfectly calm and serene environment. Offered exclusively by Casa in Toscana, is an elegant apartment available for sale in this picturesque village. The 869,42 sq.ft apartment is composed of two floors and consists of a large living room with a fireplace, a kitchen with a dining area, a study, an office, 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. A further bedroom with bathroom could be easily constructed with the permitting space. The apartment has its own private garden, a shared pool (14 x 7 m) and several parking places. Further information can be obtained through the Casa in Toscana site: http://www.casaintoscana.com/pages/sales_detail.php?lang=en&villaID=130.
Tuscany’s wine harvest culture is truly sensational and enchanting. The harvest’s ancient practices are still felt today and the passion is just as strong as one could have imagined it was during the country’s historical times.