Galileo Galilei said “wine is sunlight held together with water” and certainly the vineyards of the Cinque Terre have had an ample dose of sunlight this season. The grape harvest is well and truly over and they say it will be a good year, perhaps not for quantity but at least quality of the grapes harvested. Endless hot weather and sunshine blessed us all after the rather cold bleak month of May.
Harvesting is a still a back breaking process, particularly if the vines are draped over a pergola. Often the case on terraces more exposed to high winds. Just getting to the terraced vineyards is a hike itself! Many tourists have wandered the gorgeous high trail from Corniglia to Manarola passing through the vineyards ‘a pergola’ probably unaware as to why and how the grapes will be harvested.
And then the crates overflowing with grapes need to be loaded and unloaded and if you are lucky enough you will have the Farmer’s Cooperative mono rail running nearby. Most locals sell all or at least a major part of their harvest to the Cantine Sociale – the Farmer’s Cooperative. The wine produced is a crisp dry white from a mix of vermentino, bosco and albarolo grapes.
In Vernazza the only commercial wine producer is Bartalo of Cheo vineyards. A retired University Professor with vision, a mission and a lot of hard work to reach his goal. Bartalo and his wife Lise have been very active in the community promoting involvement of students and assisting in the development of the Save Vernazza voluntourism project. He is now President of the Consortium Cinque Terre Sciacchetra’ the delicious liquid gold sweet wine of the area.
The tourist crowds are slowly beginning to wane, although there is still time to souvenir shop and enjoy a last gelati.
The mono rail trains lie idle and its time for the last swim for the season as the Sun settles early and no longer has the hot sting of July. Autumn is moving in and soon to envelope us in its golden glow.