The Wine Nursery
Research and experimentation in the vineyard
The nursery business started with of Gino Zenato’s calling, who began the cultivation of vines in his family property near the shores of Laghetto del Frassino. This calling soon turned into a passion that has been handed down to the following generations, combined to a feeling of devotion to the land and a desire to give an authentic expression to the territory’s native grape variety, the Turbiana.
“ Nowadays, to be a nursery producing rootstocks means taking on the responsibility of producing vegetable material with the highest standards of sanitary quality, attested by the relevant authorities after strict certification controls”.
– Valerio Zenato
Thanks to their nursery activities, passed from generation to generation, the Zenato family developed a deep knowledge of the grape variety and its territory, particularly the Turbiana variety and its cultivation in the Lugana DOC area.
A knowledge that Fabio Zenato explored in detail as part of his thesis in Agricultural Sciences, discussed in 2000 at the University of Milan. The focus of his research was to identify the distinctive characteristics of the Turbiana grape and to compare it with other grape varieties.
Fabio’s dissertation marked the beginning of a specific study on behalf of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences (in collaboration with the Lugana Consortium) for the characterization of the Turbiana biotype, the true and authentic native Lugana grape variety. Our company is actively cooperating in this project as a university partner, in terms of nursery and varietal monitoring on the territory.
We also collaborate with the University of Viticulture of Verona on a joint project on clonal selection and characterization of the many typical grape varieties of Verona, expertise and know-how that are daily put to use in the work of winemakers.
“The vine shoot’s cycle”
The vine shoots cycle takes a year to complete and covers all seasons with its different stages. This special care is due to the need of grafting resulted from the Phylloxera epidemic in the 19th century, that caused many problems to global viticulture. Today, grapevines reproduction is done by grafting two portions of different shoots.
The processing cycle
- The process starts in winter when we take the buds of mother plants from specially dedicated vineyards by pruning portions of vine shoots, i.e., cuttings, selected with extreme care, since it is the quality of the bud that will determine its future value.
- Toward the end of winter (February/March), these selected buds are grafted onto the rootstock, so that it acquires its own identity and begins its new life as a grafted plant.
- “Forcing” phase: the newly grafted plant is kept in a greenhouse under high humidity conditions, in order to promote the development of the new shoot. This is a magical time when water becomes the plant’s own lymph, promoting the fusion of the two grafted portions of the shoot, the root growth and the development of the shoot. This is followed by the “greening” phase, during which the plants are kept at actual temperature so that they gradually adjust to the outdoor environment and sunlight.
- In late spring (April/May) the new plants, planted in the “rootstock cellar”, which is in the open field, begin to grow and develop. The growing season, which lasts about 6 months, until November, requires that they receive maximum care in terms of irrigation, nutrition and plant protection. The vines are planted close together and are irrigated with a micro-irrigation system according to seasonal need, avoiding wetting the foliage. The vines thus acquire vegetative autonomy, developing their own roots and definitive shoots. This completes a phase in which every step is the result of great skill, experience and manual dexterity.
- When the leaves fall (winter period), the young plants are uprooted and sorted for their different characteristics (shoot, roots, buds) with the aim of carrying out a strict selection, a key step to ensure quality for the vingrowers.
- The final stage is when the rooted cuttings are cleaned, the roots evenly cut to about 6 inches and the shoots pruned to the 3 buds that will give new life to a grapevine once it is planted in the vineyard. The rooted cuttings are ready to be packed in boxes that maintain ideal conditions for their vigor until they are shipped.
Exactly one year has passed, the young vine is ready, and, in the nursery, a new cycle begins from the newly pruned shoots.