|"Landscape with Wine Harvest" by Pietro da Cortona,|
Cortona is in the center of Tuscany, and the landscape is recognizable even today. There are a few interesting points about the harvest.
1) Unfinished barrels are front and center, and it looks like the coopers are working on them right out in the fields.
2) That guy on the far right is struggling with a barrel. Is it full of grapes? Did they harvest directly into barrels, without crushing? Or maybe they transported the grapes back to the winery in the barrels. That doesn't seem easy, but ...
3) There's no transport system, which presumably would have been a horse and wagon. Artist's choice? Were the grapes simply going to be carted back all at once at the end of the day? Or were the workers going to carry them?
4) Look how the grapes are growing. Not only is there a pergola system, but some vines appear to be growing on the trees.
We're very romantic about winemaking tradition, but pause a moment to think what this wine might have tasted like. It's coming from one of the world's great winemaking regions. Those grapes might be Sangiovese, which was first described in Tuscany in 1600, and so would have good acidity. If the wine was picked directly into barrels, unpressed, it would be very light in color, and would partially oxidize, so it would probably be a light pinkish-brown.
Picking directly into barrels would make sense if the locals wanted to keep some wine year-round. Some of this wine would be consumed in a Bacchanalian harvest festival soon after it finished fermenting: a Tuscan Nouveau. The barrels might go to the local gentry. They might have resin added, like Greek Retsina, and as soon as December the wine might have been served with spices to cover up its vinegarization.
If you want to imagine what the wine tasted like in January, you might buy a bottle of cheap Chianti and a bottle of retsina, pour them in a pot and add mulling spices like cinnamon and clove and allspice.
Sure looks like a nice day out in the vineyards in Tuscany in August. At least that hasn't changed in 400 years.
You can see the original, larger drawing here.