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Montalcino Wine Growers Throw Out 50% Of Good Grapes, Here’s Why

on 03/01/14 at 11:58 am


DroppedFruitIlPoggione-225x300“During the grape harvest of 2013, I was visiting Tenuta Il Poggione in Montalcino, home to some of Italy’s most expensive wines. As I walked the vineyards with winemaker Fabrizio Bindocci, harvesters all around us carved gorgeous, lush, fully ripe bunches of Sangiovese grapes from the vines.

And then they dropped them on the ground, like throwing out the trash. And Bindocci didn’t even mind.

In Montalcino, it’s perfectly normal to discard an alarming percentage of your total production, a practice called “dropping fruit” that slices il Poggione’s yield by up to 50%. In fact, it’s expected, even though those grapes would otherwise be crushed and matured into top-quality Brunello, which fetches about $75 per bottle.

I asked Bindocci to walk me through the math of Brunello di Montalcino’s business model.

Why would you want to literally cut profits off the vine?

Bindocci: Brunello di Montalcino production is regulated by law and the law defines a maximum yield per hectare, that is 8000 kilos. Montalcino producers, to further increase the high quality of their wines, have decided to further reduce the yield to 6000 Kilos per hectare. The main point in Montalcino’s philosophy is to focus on quality rather than on quantity.”

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