Apparently, it’s the 27th September; however, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. All I know is that we started harvesting on Sept 1st and we’re only just over half-way. I’m now one of the old hands – one of two people left from the original team of pickers.
At the weekend, the team of Polish labourers arrived.
You can say what you like about the EU but in the agricultural sector, free movement of people is essential.
We started harvesting with a team of Italians. Half were friends and family of the winery; the other half were hard-core contadini from the local area.
Now those contadini now are busy with their own harvest – our trebbiano and chardonnay grapes tend to ripen much earlier than garganega so they were able to come and give a helping hand. The other Italians wilted in the sunshine after just a couple of days and have gone back to their air-conditioned office jobs.
This is where Team Poland comes in. They may not know a lot about grapes or wine (I’ve been assigned the unenviable task of quality controlling their work) but they’re on time, they work damn hard and they’ll get the job done.
I just wish we had a common language. In the last two days, I’ve spoken more Russian than in the last six years in Paris.
I gave up trying to make small talk after just a few minutes. I was attempting to chat to one of the girls yesterday morning. Because of my rather ambiguous hand gestures, instead of finding out how long she and her boyfriend have been together, I found out that he lasts on average 5-10 minutes in bed!!!
For such a seemingly monotonous task, every single day of harvest is surprisingly varied. Every vineyard poses new challenges. Some vineyards even hide wasps’ nests. In short, some days are harder and more painful than others.
I also go through ups and downs. I had a pang of homesickness on Sunday as I was food-shopping. Italian cuisine is a source of joy for most people, but after a month of eating pasta, I was looking for something new. The selection in the supermarket was dire. Who knew it would be so hard to find an avocado or even a beetroot in rural Italy. I miss the diversity I had in Paris.
However, one of my accomplishments this past week has been my newly-found proficiency driving a tractor! I drive the beast through the rows as the crew load it up with the heavy crates and then I take it home. Next step, that small art of reversing the trailer up to the cellar door……