Last month my parents flew into Italia for a three-week visit. Their trip was seven months in the making, so needless to say, we were all VERY excited! They flew into Marco Polo on a Saturday morning and after we said our hellos I immediately whisked them away for their first European adventure.
A few days before their arrival, my friend mentioned that she was putting together a grape harvest outing complete with a traditional Italian lunch. I knew my parents had been traveling for close to 24 hours, but like the troopers they are, they were up for checking it out.
In true Italian fashion, we showed up a little late. Despite having the right address, my GPS took us to the wrong location at first. Once we finally made it to Agriturismo Pituello the grape harvesting was almost finished, but we managed to make it out to the vineyards for some quick photos and my mom got to taste some real Italian grapes straight off the vine.
Luckily, everyone who was there before us was hard at work picking grapes and collected crate after crate of grapes. Once they were all finished we moved over to see how they make the wine.
Now, part of me was wishing they still did this next part the old fashioned way. You know, where you smash the grapes with your feet—I Love Lucy style. Unfortunately, times have changed. I’ve been to several wineries before and they’ve explained the wine-making process, but it was really cool to see it in action.
Adriano of Vini Ca’Madresca picked up the crates of grapes and brought them over to the machines on a tractor. He was on a mission to show us how they make wine today…or at least how they make juice!
So this next part was neat. Adriano brought each crate over to the machine, dumped the grapes in—skins, stems, seeds, and all—and let the machine get to work.
The machine shot out the stems and the skin and pulp moved on through a thick tube. The entire process was extremely fast and I was amazed at how the machine could just pluck out the “good” parts of the grapes.
So after the awesome de-stemming machine, the grapes went through this thick tube and traveled to another machine.
I believe this machine is where the skins and possibly the seeds were taken away from the pulp (or that may have happened at the last machine—it was all in Italian and things may have been lost in translation)! Long process short, after the grapes pass through the second machine, it produces the juice!
Check out that fresh grape juice! Once all the grapes went through the machines it was on to the next fun part—we got to taste the juice!
What does fresh grape juice taste like? It tasted like nature. Seriously. It tasted very earthy with a hint of (very unsweetened) “grape.” Granted, the grapes we were drinking weren’t produced to become grape juice; they were produced to become wine. Still, it was very neat to taste it before it becomes some sort of delicious Friuli Italian vino. (Friuli is the region we’re in.)
After we had our grape-juice aperitif, we went inside for our meal. If you’ve ever experienced an Italian meal you may know how long they can take. You have your appetizer, a primi (pasta), a secondi (meat), contorno (side dish), dolci (dessert), and then your cafe (coffee).
Eating and enjoying an entire meal can take a very long time in Italy. We’re talking hours. I say all that, because I’m impressed my parents made it through such an eventful first day in Italy without falling asleep in the middle of lunch.
Way to go, guys 😉