As the time for grape harvesting draws closer, all is set for yet another fruitful year at Fra Brettel, Famalco Group’s wine estates.
During the 12 months several improvements have been made at Fra Brettel’s picturesque estates in Rabat. As workers continued building the vineyard’s boundary walls to shelter the vines from the winds, Joseph Camilleri, the estate’s co-ordinator acquired new equipment to facilitate the watering and weeding of the vines. In the meantime, viticulturist Randall Caruana ensured that the vines continue to grow strongly and to produce superior quality grapes.
After a year of hard work, all are now looking forward to the most rewarding months – harvesting. “This year’s harvest is expected to be a good one and its development will be expectantly followed,” Caruana explains. Harvesting is expected to begin during the second or third week of August, when the 1.5 tumoli of Moscato Bianco grapes are picked. These are followed by other white grape varieties –2.29 tumoli of Vermentino, 0.57 tumoli of Viognier and 1.5 tumoli of Albarino. Harvesting of the first red grapes, the Syrah, begins in the first week of September. This is followed by the Negroamaro (1 tumolo) and the Grenache (0.5 tumolo). Finally, harvest ends with the Mourvedre and the Graciano, of which Fra Brettel’s estates have eight and 4.5 tumoli respectively.
This year has been characterised by a very dry winter which has limited the vines’ growth rates during spring. This is very different from last year’s very wet winter. “In contrast to last year the vineyard is enjoying better health conditions with only minor disease pressure,” the expert adds, “this is a result of the reduced humidity in the vineyard and a good ventilation provided by the wind.” The greatest drawback for 2010’s harvest is the drought problem. This meant that in order to keep the vines healthy Joseph had to irrigate them more frequently.
Fra Brettel is currently working on an ambitious project to establish its own boutique winery to produce high quality mono variety wines and personalised styles. Until the winery is completed, the vineyard’s grapes are being vinified under contract by commercial wineries. This is not the best solution for the vineyard’s particular range of grape varieties as the wines to be made have to follow the established protocols of the wineries. To partially overcome this obstacle, Fra Brettel is currently seeking to contract smaller wineries capable of vinifying the smaller quantities of grapes harvested for some of the varieties at Fra Brettel.
Fra Brettel’s future
The Fra Brettel Estate is still a universe in creation. As its vineyards begin to mature both the quality and quantity of the harvests are expected to improve. These estates are ideal for the creation of rural activities targeted at tourists and locals who wish to experience the taste of our land and our passion through the wines we produce and the rich local agricultural tradition. The establishment of a small boutique winery will enable Fra Brettel to use the potential of the grapes it produces to the full. This would mean that wines of different styles and different blends can be created in response to each year’s particular characteristics and presented to visitors.