I have been waiting for the last two months to get the go ahead from Nic that Villa I Tatti needs volunteers to help pick the grape vines before the rains come. Last Thursday was the day. I had been feeling a bit blah lately and missing adult company so this was just the ticket for me to get out and do some physical exercise while chatting (in English, yes!). I totally forgot to bring my camera and was very excited when I saw Kate (another fellow of I Tatti) with hers snapping away. Kate was happy to shoot me over some pictures from our morning of grape picking and so I thought I’d do a little photo diary as the grounds of I Tatti are grand and beautiful. I couldn’t believe it when I heard some people would rather lock themselves away in offices instead of getting in amongst it all, it’s a once in a life time experience picking grapes on a farm in Italy for this Australian.
The morning started at 8 am with a couple of early risers (actually Guy was jet lagged and Kate, well she just made an excellent effort!). Nic and I rolled up around 8.30am just after we dropped the kids off to school. As you can see the fields are all turned up (I am sure there is a technical term for that?) and it was a bit unsteady under foot but once you started, you got the hang of it. The four of us and the professional farmers all got to work picking, analysing (looking for rotten grapes) and eventually dumping loads of beautiful grape bunches into our designated red bins. Kate was in full steam ahead mode and managed to finish her first container before the crowds arrived.
Seeing how well she had done I thought I had better get cracking and see what I could come up with. Lucky for me the farmers tip half picked bins into other half picked bins to make full ones, otherwise I would of been competing against everyone! At first you really study the grape bunches and make sure they are 100% perfect before you place them in your red bin…….that is until you look into your red bin and see you are quite slow and have only filled a third of your bin rather than the full bin your mate further down the vine has picked!
Clearly the container was super full as I had to drag it on the ground…..well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Grape picking in this fashion is quite therapeutic and satisfying. You get to hold bunches of grapes that look like they were painted rather than grown; when you taste them they are so sweet your mouth fills with the juicy rich flavour of the grape and if you happen to stand up straight to stretch out your back you can be lucky enough to see beautiful Tuscan views all around you….
and the best part about harvest time at I Tatti is the added touches they provide, for example, just when you think you might need a break or a drink of water, a tractor pulls around the vines and you’re called down for a panini and refreshments, I mean completely civilised really!
The amount of brain matter in amongst the vines on this day is quite staggering, there were not a lot of questions about Desperate Housewives amongst this group! Anyway, after our little break, it was back to the vines and Kate in full glory showing us how it’s done while another professor’s baby looks on in comfort.
It was a great morning hanging out in the fields picking grapes with a great bunch of people. I am also happy to know that now the grapes are picked (actually I think they had another 3 fields of vines to pick but you can’t ask too much of your visiting fellows…and their partners!) we will soon be enjoying the fruits of our labour in a few months time in the way of bottled wine, well I may be invited back up to the villa once or twice before we go back home if I’m good!
2013 I Tatti grape pickers