Saturday, 26 September 2009


Huuuuuuu... Vintage time. The grape wine harvest is here, soundbacked by the rattle devices and bits of mirrors and foils hung all around to keep the birds away. We have ours in two takes - the early one for the prestigious Traminian harvest (lengthily and delicate work) and the bigger one for the rest. First the white and then the red sorts as red are usually much easier to pick (and a little less easy to carry uphill.)

Our vineyard is just outside my home town and dad carved it into the hill side shaped as an amphitheatre in 35 or so terraces, wide enough to sustain one or two rows. All year he manages it, watching over it, cutting down the grasses, fertilizing it, talking to it, airing the soil and we all help spraying the medicine and putting on the anti-hail and bird nets. Disease, birds and hail are the number one destroyers - tourists and other local wildlife doesn't come close.

Once we gather, mum dives into the field am early to do anything dad fails to prevent her from doing (you may not pick while dew is still on..), so she scouts the fruit and removes some of the nets. Dogs chase the fawns out, cats kill some birds in the nets, bees and wasps beat us to the punch... We prepare the buckets and presses and ridiculous amount of food and then guests arirve - usually the family and more avidly drinking friends (:p). Three groups form according to physical shape (you'd be amazed how many fall ill or crippled on just this day!) and are assigned to de-stemming and crushing and press; second team is those who carry the loads uphill and wheelbarrow the crates to the works; and original group, mostly women and kids, do the actual harvesting. Mum and eldest brother's lady are pros at that. I am the only female carrier, what with my uncanny joy of bearing absurd loads on my back. But that slope is a bitch.

Next day barely anyone can still function properly. Even now that I'm sorting through the pickies, my legs and neck ache and tomorrow I'll move like a robot. Important part is not to eat anything, tho. Not even after. Dad's food is renown to be a tranquilizer and although fingerlicking good, it makes you lazy and un-bendy like you wouldn't believe. Mom's tiramisus and my own *OverMuraMovingCake are only slightly more work-friendly.

Towards the end of the day, sugar rate of the pressed juice is measured and last year's stuff is sampled and those who would not take heed, eat and fall asleep in the garden. Including the dogs. Crates are tumbled around with the vap spray, food is wrapped in ample packages and stolen and everyone is beat, wooden and happy. Few cuts, hornett stings and sibling arguments aside, it is a very good day.