The drying of the grapes, Appassimento in Italian, is a very ancient wine making technique, still used today to make many dessert wines (Passito wines).
All the bunches, harvested between September and October, selected for the production of the Amarone have to dry for four months. In order to avoid mould and rotting during the drying process, bunches have to be perfectly healty, without any bruise and berries loosely packed to allow internal air circulation. All these elements must be taken into consideration when selecting grapes during harvest which is strictly done by hand, and therefore requires experienced staff.
After the first selection, bunches have to be laid on a single layer and all in the same direction on plastic boxes. Like for many other traditional and manual activities, also for the selection of the Amarone grapes, people willing to learn and continue the tradition, often women, are becoming fewer and fewer.
Especially during the first few weeks of drying, when bunches are still full of water and outside temperature is still high, it is important to check grapes every day, removing berries or bunches that develop mould.
Boxes are stored in specifically build houses called fruttaio, where they rest until January or February.