It’s grape harvest time in the 5 Terre and we have had a marvellous response from Busabout tourists and the American Syracuse University of Florence , who sent, and will continue to send volunteers to help us out with the grape harvesting at Vernazza.
White grapes are the main type grown in the area – vermentino, albarola and bosco being the most common grape varieties. Unlike Australia, wine in Italy is classified according to the area, rather than according to the grape variety and each area produces what best suits its food specialities. The white wine here goes perfectly with the seafood diet – try the fried or marinated anchovies and other specialities like trofie (pasta) al pesto, torta del riso (vegetarian rice pie) and chick pea focaccia.
Wine has been a part of Italian lives for centuries and I found an interesting quote by Agostino Giustini, historian of the Genoese Repubblica, from 1538
“The territory is so precipitous and rocky, that not only is it difficult for goats to climb, but also makes flying difficult for the birds: arid and dry and yet no less full of fertile grapes, which in some places are gathered by men lowered down on ropes; and they harvest grapes producing such excellent wines that no words may describe. And there is no Baron, Prince or King who would not be greatly honoured when wine of the Cinque Terre is served at their table,”
Nowadays most of the vines are planted in upright rows, while the old style was to plant them over a pergola to allow better exposure to the sun in such limited terrace areas and to protect the vines snapping from the strong winds. Rather back breaking to pick, but if you only do it for the morning like we did it was rather fun to be sitting altogether pleasantly shaded by the vines and chatting and laughing as we worked.
The little mono train system is a bonus these days, taking the filled crates down to road level where they are transported to the cellars – Cheo family winery or Cantina Sociale Cooperativa Cinque Terre. And the views from the work sites are amazing!
The Americans students, and the volunteers, mostly Aussies and Kiwis, work hard and find the experience very rewarding and we, along with the landowners, greatly appreciate the work that they do and are encouraged by their enthusiasm.
Lunch never lets them down and they deserve it as we meet them at 7.30 am, often without breakfast, so they can work before it gets too hot. So when tummies begin to rumble we take a break, work on for a few more hours and then relax over lunch. Wine included, of course!
So if you are thinking of coming over, do join us as we are welcoming “outsiders” and you can book in via www.save vernazza.com Project: ‘Turisti nei Cian’ – Ligurian dialect for ‘Tourists on the terraces’