Yahya El Harchaoui: lessons from the land.

Yahya El Harchaoui manages our vineyards (and we couldn’t do without!). Yahya landed in Tuscany from Morocco 16 years ago (another incredible story in itself) and has been working in Montecalvi almost all this time. To say he knows the place well would be an understatement.

How did you get to Greve in Chianti? What brought you to Tuscany?

I was looking for a new opportunity away from Morocco. My older brother worked for a winery in Greve (he still works there) and convinced me to come to Greve. So I did, and here I have been ever since. I really feel at home in Greve. The Grevigians are good-it’s a nice community and I feel welcomed-they even let me play soccer on one of their teams.

How did you get started in the wine industry?

Shortly after I arrived, a friend of mine who was working in Montecalvi told me that they needed help to protect the young vines. I offered for a few days, but at the end of the job they asked if I could stay. Stay!? I was overjoyed. Three days later, I started working in Montecalvi and never looked back.

Montecalvi has become certified organic. Why do you think this is important?

I am very happy with this. Using chemicals is not only harmful to the vines and soil but also to all of us who work with them. Now we do not use fungicides or pesticides or herbicides. It makes things more complicated, but it is much better for the vineyard, for us, and for the wine.

Tell us about the Le Terrazze vineyard. What is involved in taking care of such an old vineyard?

The Le Terrazze vineyard was planted in 1932 and is one of the oldest vineyards in Tuscany. It requires much more work because the vineyard is on very steep masonry terraces so everything has to be done by hand (including having to carry everything up by hand!). We recently started in Montecalvi ‘a project on old vines’ in order to regenerate these historic vines. We recently started in Montecalvi “a project on old vines” to regenerate these historic vines. This will help maintain both the history and biodiversity of the area.

Renowned pruner Marco Tessari visited Montecalvi recently to introduce some new practices. What do you think? What did you learn?

It was a wonderful experience and we learned a lot. It is called ‘gentle pruning. The idea is to reduce both the size and quantity of cuts and to prune so that water and nutrients can flow down the vine unimpeded. This will improve the health of the vines, making them more resistant to disease; they can live longer and be more productive.

Any final thoughts?

Montecalvi is a wonderful place and I am very happy and proud to be a part of it!