Up at the crack of sparrows this morning to do a little grape picking after the necessary expresso in the local bar. I was fairly late on duty as these guys seem to pick almost before it gets light But I did manage to pick a few before it was announced that they were all off shooting for the rest of the day . I, of course, had forgotten my camera so I snuck back later to find that most of the buckets of grapes had already been moved ready for crushing. These few were left which I claim as my own personally picked grapes.
The rather tatty looking wheelbarrow with the planks on at the top of the picture fits beautifully between the rows and we use it to transport the big buckets of grapes to the end of the row where they are picked up by a flat back truck to be taken to the weigh point where everything is weighted . The weight is entered into a book for some reason I haven’t yet figures out but it must be something to do with yield. Like olive picking there is no great romance in picking grapes. A pair of gloves something to cut the stem and a big bucket to put them in is all it takes but it is back breaking work. Stuff that looks rotten or sunburned ( little raisins ) don’t put in your bucket on pain being laughed at in the bar that evening.
Rather stylish gloves don’t you think. This morning was amazingly cold 6C at 7 a.m. and the high topped out at 17C this afternoon so not my idea of ideal grape picking weather and I was glad of the gloves.
We are supposed to start again on Monday but the weather forecast is for torrential rain. No one seemed to pay any attention to the forecast . Lots of “booh” expressions from everyone when I said it and looks of disbelief. It won’t rain because we are picking seemed to be the gist of it. We shall see. The forecast is grim all week with rain and chilly days. Whilst not unusual up here, last October was so lovely as was the one before that so this is quite a shock. The central heating kicked in this morning and has been on all day. It is 4-5C warmer down at sea level which at this time of year makes a big difference. I feel sorry for some of the late holiday makers that come up here led in the main by villa tour operators that put weather info on their website. This is an example from a company that has 80% 0f its villas in or near us in the Valle D’Itria :
“The autumn, signalled by the arrival of October and November, remains generally warm with temperatures only really dropping out of the 20s towards the beginning of December.
The winter months can be a little rainy but are generally mild, with average temperatures around the 12-15 °C mark.”
I think I would be a little upset if I had paid €10,000 for a week in October which is what these guys charge. They at best are using the weather at the tip of the heel of Italy as the “average” temperature. Luckily our house guests bought jumpers anoraks and umbrellas.
I asked some weeks ago a reader of this blog to pen a few words on wine tasting around this area. As a bon vivant and keen amateur wine taster Nicky Bagshaw happily agreed and here is the piece .
” From time immemorial, the area known once as Magna Grecia has been synonymous with wine. A pleasant winter pastime is to select one of the areas to explore and book a couple of appointments at wineries to enjoy a tour and tasting. Some have small courtyards where they will serve lunch others are much more functional, but all have delights to savour. They are relaxed, accommodating but may not have an English speaker to hand out of season and open 0900-1230/1700-1900 Tues-Sat only.
Parts of the Region’s Terra are known for specific varieties. Near Brindisi is the well known Due Palme which is a cooperative on a grand scale, overseen with skill and experience to bring you international wines- notably reds. Surrounding towns are known for their Rose or rossato along with other fresh sparklers. The area from Ostuni, Cisternino up to Martina Franca and Locorotondo create some very quaffable whites along with some interesting old vine ruby reds. Explore a myriad of producers, many now organic, from Mesagne, Manduria as well as right down into the deep Salento to sample full rich Primitivos, Salice Salentino and Negromaros, particularly from very old establishments such as Leone de Castris, Feudi di San Marzano, Tenute Al Bano Carrisi (a famous singer) Castello Monaci, Duca Carlo Guarini, Soloperto sisters. There are far too many to mention, enjoy your own discoveries but do not overlook the sweet desert Nektars that can produce a delicious warm glow after a few sips!
Later towards the end of October onwards you can start to get that Christmas feeling and stock up on fresh citrus along with all kinds of home made relish to take back with your pasta and fresh made olive oil. There is even a service at the airport now that will pack and ship it for you. On that note I have worked up a Nigella sized appetite, so am off to get myself some fresh coffee and almond and honey pastries. ”
And that singer