Harvested Fruit…

Leave a comment

One of the amazing things about living in Tuscany is that you develop a real appreciation for what is in season.  In the beginning this can be difficult because if you’re craving asparagus and it’s now summer, well you’re just not going to find it.  But if it’s late August and you feel like having a fig or twenty, you’re in luck because that’s when the fig trees are abundant.  My neighbor Marinella invited me over the other day as she plucked some of the beautiful green fruit from one of her many trees and sent me home with way too many “fichi.”  The green figs are delicious and almost delicate tasting compared to the darker figs I am used to.  Some I just peeled and ate, and to some I added a little fresh ricotta…Mmmm.

I also was fortunate enough yesterday to witness some other frutta that had just been harvested.  While the Sangiovese grapes that Tuscany is known for won’t be ready for a few more weeks, the ciliegiolo from Maremma are being harvested now.  On Monday afternoons, I have two students whose family owns a winery here in Montepulciano.  After our lessons each week, I am invited to dinner with the family and everyone practices their English.  But yesterday, with the grapes from Maremma being prepared, my student Francesco and his mom Anna interrupted our lesson to take me on a tour to see how the grapes were separated from the stems.  The work is being done just a short walk from their house and the backdrop includes acres and acres of grapevines.  It’s a truly beautiful setting.

Anna explained to me that these grapes are sweet and are added to some of the varietal wines.  The whole process is automated and when I saw those huge machines doing their work I couldn’t help but think how hard it must have been to do that job by hand back in the day.  Imagine having to pluck off the stems from each grape.   The actual cutting of the grape bunches is still done by hand and it’s quite a laborious job.  Anna invited me to participate when the actual harvesting of the Sangiovese grapes commences in mid September.  I can’t wait.

After the grapes are separated, leaving only the fruit, they roll along on a conveyor and then are sucked into a long tube which takes them underground.   I joked with Anna that this was where the women would stomp them, but in actuality huge steel barrels are waiting for them.  I haven’t witnessed that part of the process yet, but I hope eventually I’ll get to see how everything works.

Over dinner, we talked and enjoyed some of their wine.  I’ve always been a wine lover, but I now have a better appreciation of the process it takes to make each of those delicious bottles.  The dinner also included some seasonal dishes and when it was time for dessert I wasn’t surprised to see a familiar sight…figs.

Vineyard tour with my student Francesco

Vineyard tour with my student Francesco

Ciliegiolo - l'uva di Maremma

Ciliegiolo - l'uva di Maremma

the grapes are placed here and then are slowly sucked into the machine

the grapes are placed here and then are slowly sucked into the machine

The grapes take a ride into the separator

The grapes take a ride into the separator

the stems are discarded and turned into mulch

the stems are discarded and turned into mulch

the separated fruit is now ready for the next phase

the separated fruit is now ready for the next phase

next everything flows into tanks underground

next everything flows into tanks underground

Figs from Marinella's trees

Figs from Marinella's trees

Figs with fresh ricotta...yum!

Figs with fresh ricotta...yum!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s