30 October 2010
Vendemmia, the verb
I admit I did not know that there was such a word as vendemmiare. I knew about a vendammia, the harvest of the grapes, but we were introduced to this verb form recently.
When we lived in Ascoli Piceno we frequently saw and tasted the results of the vendemmia but despite our frequent offers no one ever asked us to help. That changed quickly here Basilicata. We offered to help some friends with their private plots and we were called upon when the weather cooperated to vendemmiare, harvest the grapes. This is not just going into the vineyard and collecting the grapes; as with everything in Italy food is involved.
We gathered in the morning on the slope where the small vineyard is located just outside of town and started with some food and samples of last years harvest. Once we were fortified it was off into the slightly muddy fields to cut the grapes off the vines. The family we helped was chatty all morning with a barrage of questions for us as well as chitchat amongst themselves.
After all of the grapes were collected they were then weighed. This was done the old fashioned way with two strong backs and a balance. The grapes are then run through a machine that separates the stems, crushes the grape and pumps it into a large vat. The results do not necessarily look appetizing but this only the first step in turning the grapes into wine.
We then all gathered to finish the day with a large spread of food for the entire family composed of various local dishes. And of course more wine.
Most of the grapes in our area have now been harvested but all of our friends know that we are willing and able to vendemmiare.