Why Italians grapes are so tasty, even in December

Somehow, the Italians manage to keep their table grapes tasty and sweet all year long. Why is that? According to Belgium expert Jan Prinsen there are three main reasons. The first reason is the ideal location. Italian grapes are mainly cultivated in the far south of the country, where they benefit from a warm, dry climate. Grapes exported in November and December come from carefully selected vineyards where the ripening process has been slowed down in a natural way. The fields have been covered with foil blocking some of the sunlight, causing growth to slow down. This process allows the plant to still produce fresh grapes until late in the season. 

Craftsmanship is, it has to be said, another major contributing factor. Italian producers take a lot of pride in their crops and are stimulated by their worldwide reputation. Also, it’s just very hard work and it involves much dedication. Years, maybe even decades of experience tells farmers when to intervene, when to reap and when to let nature take its course.

Irrigation is crucial. The soil in Conversano and Rutigliano is good, but also rocky and prone to desiccation. Both irrigation and proper drainage are hugely important. Then there is the postproduction: nowhere else are grapes handled and packaged with so much care and commitment.

Mother Nature
We tend to forget that grapes are really an autumn product, and autumn doesn’t technically end until December 21. We, as importers, wholesalers and retailers, are used to marketing table grapes in the summer, while Italian growers know that the juiciest grapes are harvested late in the season.

The advice for the grape industry: Be patient, let nature do what it does best and remember that the best is often saved for last. The ITALIA grape may be late in arriving, but it’s worth the wait.

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