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Cinigiano has it and Scansanso has been doing it for ever. The two Southern Tuscan villages have been celebrating the harvest of their wines (Montecucco DOC and Morellino di Scansano DOC) for the last 42 years. So how comes that one of the oldest DOC and DOCG areas of Italy doesn't have any festive event to honor the picking of its heavenly Sangiovese grapes?

Sangiovese grapes ready for picking
Looking perfect
 Sangiovese grapes ready to turn into Brunello at the Fonterenza estate

Things are going to change now. A group of dedicated Brunello drinkers has decided that 2012 is the year to organize Montalcino's first festa della vendemmia (harvest festival). 

One of the highlights of the three day program is going to be the ABBA tribute show in Montalcino's fortress on Friday night. Hm... but no, we won't be offended, if you didn't come all the way to Tuscany to listen to ABBA songs. Luckily, the festival has a few events in store, which may be more interesting for the traveler from abroad. 

Brunello vineyard during harvest, Montalcino Fonterenza winery
Ready to go: 2012 wine harvest at Montalcino's Fonterenza winery

During the whole three days Tuscan folk music choirs will be giving their best in the streets of Montalcino, a couple of (free) wine tastings are organized, and most importantly you can visit the Corte dei Venti winery to learn about all things wine harvest. Now, this is what you may have been thinking of when planning your trip to Tuscany. Often vineyards are not too keen on visitors during the madly busy days of the wine harvest, so this is a great opportunity.

PROGRAM: Montalcino, Festa della Vendemmia, 2012

FRIDAY, September 21
4.30pm Piazza del Popolo, "Il Trescone" Montalcino's folk music choir
6pm Piazza del Popolo Brass Band playing Italian swing
8.30pm Fortezza (Montalcino's fortress), 80s DJ set followed by the concert of Italy's only official (!) ABBA tribute band

SATURDAY, September 22
From 10am Tuscan folk music groups out on town
12am The pressing of the grapes - the old fashioned way
3pm Opening of the exhibition in the HQ of Travaglio (one of Montalcino's city districts). The theme of the paintings of the exhibition is... the wine harvest. And the artists are the children of Montalcino's kindergarten and primary school. Yes, I know. But a tasting with the wines of Donatella Cinelli (Casato Prime Donne) will celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Donatella Cinelli is one of Montalcino's best known wine producers. So you better put up with our kids' paintings. 
4.30pm Piazza del Popolo, more Tuscan folk music 
5.30pm Santa Croce Church, the Tuscan band Inchanto playing world music. Again join in for a tasting of Montalcino's wines. This time of the Corte dei Venti winery.
6.30pm St. Pietro Church, classical concert with the string ensemble 'Archi del Trasimeno'
9.30pm Piazza del Popolo, Four Jumps - Country Line Dance Show with the Shakers

SUNDAY, September 23
10am Tuscan folk music groups passing through Montalcino's streets and squares
10am Giardini dell'Impero, horse shoeing demonstration
10.30am Chiesa del Corpus Domini (Ruga district), classical concert with the string ensemble 'Archi del Trasimeno'
4.30pm Fortezza di Montalcino falconry display 
6.30pm San Pietro Church (Pianello district), concert with Montalcino's Puccini 

GUIDED VISITS TO THE HARVEST from 10.30am to 1pm every day at the Corte dei Venti winery. To book your visit of for more information call Montalcino's tourist office: +39 0577 84 93 31. 

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