When the earth moves

Our land, which we love so much and extol because it gives our wine perfumes and characteristics unique in the world, sometime rebels. I have no intention of comparing these photos with the recent catastrophic images of Japan, which we all have on our minds, but I want to show you one of the many unforeseen events that are part of being a viticulturist…

In the last four days, Piedmont has been pummelled by a continuous constant rain. This rain has put the river banks and roads of the entire region to the test. If you travel the torturous communication roads of the Langhe, you will be slaloming among signs of work in progress, dangerous landslides or excavators removing the accumulations of earth that have slipped to the middle of the road.

The vineyards were obviously not spared, and especially the new ones and the earth just flattened in expectation of being planted. The biggest problem is at San Bernardo, in the municipality of Serralunga d’Alba, where last summer we levelled some newly-purchased ground in order to plant new Nebbiolo vines this spring. As you can see from the photos, our plans will probably be postponed for a few months.

The rain also left its mark in the Briccolina vineyard, where the fencing is damaged but prevented the collapse of the upper part of the vineyard. The clay and lime that constitute our wonderful terrain become enemies in times like these. The land soaks up the water until it starts to slip on the solid marlstone beneath, sliding downriver.

There is nothing to do but watch and wait for the sun and wind to dry the earth, so that we can intervene mechanically. The costs for restoring the land are high and the discomforts are many. Nature reminds us that we must observe her more attentively and this is something our elders knew how to do better than we….