Vendemmia: harvesting the grapes

There’s a row of wheelbarrows and baskets waiting when we arrive at 8am, together with boxes of disposable gloves and secateurs. We march out past the Friularo grapes, which will be picked later, to the yellow moscato grapes hanging in glowing bunches with the morning dew still on them. These are used to make the superb dessert wine, Fior d’Arancio, and are hand picked, as are all the best wines.

We work in pairs down each row of vines, chatting and cutting as the sun gets warmer. Hundreds of tiny insects fly around us, but they are harmless, though a bit of a nuisance. A praying mantis lands on my next bunch, prays for me and then flies away on silvery wings.

When the last loads are tipped out we head back to the farmhouse for a communal feast: salads, salamis, prosciutto, soups, vegetables, lasagne, porcini quiches, beef and aubergine meat loaf…then fruits and desserts….and the proprietario stands at the head of the table to explain about the gold-medal-winning Friularo wine we’re drinking.

We noisily drift back to the vines where we have to cut the prosecco grapes at each end of the long rows where plastic crates have been left in bright primary colours against a sea of green. The grapes are picked mechanically, but the machine can’t function at the turning points, so we hand pick the first and last two plants. This work is quickly done, and it’s just as well because it is very hot.

Back at the farmyard we sit in a circle, eating dolci and drinking ┬áRaboso, the local sparkling rose. People bring out instruments and we sing, or at least they do. I don’t even know the tunes, but the atmosphere is happy and noisy as the sun sets. There’s talk of dancing, but we’re all exhausted.


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