We only harvest Sardinian cork

Strong yet delicate hands, a sure touch: this is the secret to extract the “gold from Gallura”.

This is what our harvesters perfectly know; they perpetrate a timeless art, a harvesting method unchanged for well over a century, handed down from generation to generation. Their movements seem easy to inexperienced eyes, but the truth is that harvesting cork is extremely difficult if you do not know how to properly handle the axe. Each swing of the axe is carefully controlled. Too much force will damage the underlying delicate phellogen and jeopardize the oak and of course the growth of new bark. Too gentle a swing and the bark will not release.

The extractors usually make a rapid horizontal cut round the plant, called crown, at about 1.20 m height and two or more vertical cuts, depending on the size of the oak.

To free the cork from the tree, the extractor pushes the handle of the axe into the rulers; this happens only from early May to late August, during the period of strong phellogen activity, when the bark can be separated from the tree without causing permanent damage. Normally the extractors work in pairs, then there are the workers who gather the cork planks and carry them on their backs, given the impassable nature of most of the Sardinian cork oak forests.

Sometimes they walk for over an hour, on steep paths in the summer heatwave; their efforts are remarkable, however it is even more remarkable their love for the oaks and the forests. This turns such complicated ritual into the most natural gesture ever.